Sunday, 5 September 2010

The Shaky Isles

Yesterday was a black day for New Zealand and more particularly the South Island.  The first inkling I had that their was a calamity was a report of a major earthquake when I switched on the bedside radio to hear the BBC.

A 7.1  quake hit Christchurch just after 4:30am in the morning and flattened a lot of the city.

As the Prime Minister stated later in the day "Parts of the city look like they've been put in a tumble dryer and given a damn good shake. You look at certain parts of the city and down town, it's essentially a ghost town. You can see utter devastation",

The city was lucky on two counts.  Firstly it was early in the morning when the streets were relatively deserted and families were together.  Secondly there appears to have been no fatalities at time of writing.

I rushed to turn on the television but at that time of the morning there were no special reports.  Once again it was the Net and in particular Twitter that kept everybody up to date.  Real time updates from citizen tweeters and bloggers provided excellent coverage while the main stream media struggled to keep up.

As the map shows the country is a mass of active fault lines and the forces generated by the collision of the Pacific and Australian plates are massive.

It is only a question of time before our capital city Wellington is devastated as it sits on more fault lines than any other NZ populated conurbation.  It was therefore a surprise to most, including the geologists, that it was Christchurch that experienced this  major event.

It should however be no surprise at the scale of the damage, as the shingles on which a lot of the city sits are perfect transmitters of energy. Therefore the force of an earthquake spreads easily and causes greater damage and also liquifaction.

Now twenty four hours on, we have comes to realise that this will be a billion dollar cleanup exercise and one of our most serene and English of cities has been changed forever.
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