Workers Party statement on Canterbury earthquake disaster Wednesday February 23, 2011

February 23, 2011

To local and international friends, supporters, and readers,

Yesterday, February 22, an immense earthquake hit Christchurch, New Zealand’s third largest city. Currently there are 55 confirmed dead, 20 unidentified bodies, and an estimated 300 missing. The quake occurred at 12.50pm and was followed shortly after by a major aftershock.

This is the second major earthquake to strike Christchurch in 5 months. This more recent quake – 6.3 – in magnitude was far more destructive than the last, as it occurred only 10 Km south of
Christchurch at the shallow depth of 5 Km. It happened during the lunch hour of a working week day which has compounded human suffering and trauma.

As well as injury and loss of life there has been major damage to buildings, houses, and infrastructure. Soil liquefaction has damaged roads and transport. Originally there was an estimated 80% loss of power, as of mid-day today the estimate is now 50%. Currently three quarters of the city has no water. Phone lines and signal towers have also been wrecked or severely damaged. The Canterbury television building completely collapsed and has been one of the focal points for rescue efforts. There is concern that the Hotel Grand Chancellor- the tallest building in Christchurch – may still collapse from extreme buckling. The township of Lyttleton was at the epicenter of the earthquake and was extensively damaged.
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