Our Darkest Day
Christchurch has been struck by yet another devastating earthquake, this time with scores of casualties, after a 6.3-magnitude shock struck just before 1pm during a busy lunchtime on Tuesday 22 February. The official death toll currently stands at 75, with this expected to rise as rescue efforts continue. The earthquake flattened office buildings, destroyed homes and left large swathes of the city without electricity and running water. The mayor of Christchurch, Bob Parker, has declared a state of emergency and ordered people to evacuate the city centre. “Make no mistake this is going to be a very black day for this shaken city,” Parker said. Photographs and video from Christchurch, which has a metropolitan area of nearly 4, residents, showed people running through the streets, massive landslides pouring rocks and debris into suburban streets and extensive damage to buildings. The epicentre was at shallow depth (5km) under Christchurch so many people were within 1km to 2km of the fault rupture. Witnesses told of watching the spire of the iconic Christchurch Cathedral come crashing down during an aftershock. One witness called it “the most frightening thing of my entire life.” Scientists in New Zealand said there had been less than a one in twenty chance of the earthquake being so destructive. The fatal quake was actually an aftershock of the 7.1 magnitude earthquake that struck the same area in September last year.