On the Ring of Fire

In the early hours of Saturday, September 4, Christchurch was struck by an earthquake measuring 7.1 on the Richter Scale, the same magnitude as that which hit Haiti in January. The quake was shallow, at only 1km deep, and hit 4km west of the city on the east coast of the island close to the town of Darfield, at 4.36am local time. Residents reported collapsed buildings and bridges, as well as power cuts. Christchurch, which has a population of around 4, people, was then rocked with a series of sharp aftershocks. Christchurch mayor Bob Parker declared a state of emergency four hours after tremors rocked the region. It is the most damaging earthquake in New Zealand since the Hawke’s Bay earthquake in 1931, but this time there was no loss of life. Christchurch resident Cam Gordon summed up the fear felt by people caught in the quake. “It was like a giant had picked up our house and was just shaking it, shaking and shaking.” The Press arts editor Christopher Moore said it felt “much worse” than the Inangahua earthquake of 1968 — also a magnitude 7.1. “It was savage, terrifying, horrible,” Moore said.

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