By Francesco Turso
On Tuesday, February 22 at 12:51 pm, New Zealand was struck by a magnitude 6.3 earthquake near Christchurch. According to MSNBC, “the earthquake toppled buildings and killed dozens of people.” The U.S. sent a team that includes search-and-rescue staff from the Los Angeles county fire department.
Prime minister John Key was quoted by CBS, “It is just a scene of utter devastation, we may well be witnessing New Zealand’s darkest day.” In addition, the quake has shaken a massive chunk of ice loose from the country’s biggest glacier.
This is the second earthquake to hit New Zealand in the past five months. According to the United States Geological Survey, on September 4, 2010 at 4:35 pm a 7.0 magnitude earthquake rocked New Zealand, 30 miles west of Christchurch. That quake, though much larger, it was deeper underground and at a more quiet time of the day, resulting in less casualties.
On March 7, BBC reported that 10,000 homes in Christchurch “cannot be rebuilt,” as John Key was quoted. The death toll is at 166 so far, with the number expected to reach 200 as more bodies are pulled from the rubble. He also announced a national memorial day, on March 18, with events planned at Hagley Park, in Christchurch.
Mr. Key went on to say that New Zealanders must “brace ourselves” for the demolition of many heritage buildings and homes. He went on to explain that this was due to the process of ‘liquefaction’ that occurred during the quake. Liquefaction occurs when soil is weakened by silt and water sparked by a earthquake. BBC also reported Treasury officials estimated “that GDP growth will be around 1.5 percentage points lower in the 2011 calendar year solely as a result of the February earthquake.”
Power is expected to be restored to 99 percent of the dwellings in the city by the end of Monday.