Primer on the Christchurch Earthquake

24 Feb

New Zealand is still reeling from a devastating Earthquake that struck Christchurch, the second largest city in the country. At least 76 people were killed in the disaster, and more than 230 remain missing today. More than 120 of those missing may be buried under one building downtown.

Was this the first earthquake in Christchurch? Hardly. There was actually a more powerful one that struck the city in September 2010. That one measured 7.1 on the Richter scale.  That earthquake caused moderate damage but did not result in any serious injuries, let alone any deaths.

Why was this one so much worse? This most recent earthquake measured 6.3 on the Richter scale. Even though Tuesday’s earthquake was 10 times less powerful than the one in September, it caused much more damage because of its location. The recent earthquake was centered less than 6 miles from the center of town, while September’s occurred more than 24 miles away. The most recent quake occurred three miles from the surface, while the past quake occurred at twice that distance. This quake’s proximity made the tremor much more intense in Christchurch and shook the buildings with devastating effects.

Any good news? There’s some. Google quickly set up a message board where people could post descriptions of missing people. Several reunions have been made possible through the service. Additionally, rescuers have successfully removed people from buildings alive. One triumphant photo is particularly striking…

Two men rescued from a building in Christchurch

Are there any videos of the Earthquake itself? Yes, several videos have emerged. Two are below.

Is there something really puzzling? I think so. Take a look at this video, also taken shortly after the earthquake struck. As you’ll see, makeshift ambulances are taking people to hospitals. However, take a look at the scenery in the video. It appears that the area in the video is relatively intact. Other videos show similar things. I don’t understand why certain areas of the city were devastated, but others seemed left unaffected.

Other noteworthy pictures? These pictures showcase the devastation in Christchurch.

Christchurch's central cathedral in ruins

Devastation to Christchurch's central cathedral


The Cathedral Before the Earthquake

The Cathedral before the earthquake

Woman Pulled From Christchurch's Rubble

Rescuers pull a woman from the rubble in Christchurch

ruins of the Pyne Gould Guinness building

The Pyne Gould Guinness building lies in ruins

Aerial Devastation of Christchurch

The view from above in Christchurch

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