More quakes in New Zealand
February 21, 2011 5:39 PM   Subscribe

A massive quake ripped through the Canterbury area of the south island of New Zealand this morning.
posted by ironbob (229 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
sorry. that first link is a little useless. maybe they'll add useful info as the day progresses.
posted by ironbob at 5:43 PM on February 21, 2011


The tower of the famed Anglican Cathedral in Cathedral Square has collapsed; there are numerous reports of fatalities.
posted by Paragon at 5:44 PM on February 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Some early photos from stuff

This is very different from the last major quake - there are confirmed fatalities. Christchurch Cathedral has lost it's spire.
posted by Catch at 5:45 PM on February 21, 2011


Photos - looks awful.
posted by madamjujujive at 5:47 PM on February 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


(The cathedral has suffered quake damage before, but nothing this serious.)

Sumner cliff collapses on buildings.
posted by Paragon at 5:47 PM on February 21, 2011


Radio New Zealand have dedicated coverage right now - llive streaming available.
posted by Catch at 5:48 PM on February 21, 2011


Geonet seismographic info / Google Maps location
posted by Paragon at 5:50 PM on February 21, 2011


And Geonet is the source for seismographic data - aftershocks so far have been 4.4 and 4.0 at around the same depth.
posted by Catch at 5:52 PM on February 21, 2011


hope traicle and any other mefites in the area are OK, wishing you well.
posted by madamjujujive at 5:52 PM on February 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


All those crushed cars are just horrifying - they're saying on ten that a couple of buses were engulfed by collapsing buildings.
posted by Wantok at 5:55 PM on February 21, 2011


This comes on top of a huge earthquake last year (MeFi thread).
posted by Paragon at 5:56 PM on February 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Radio New Zealand's audio stream keeps going in and out for me. I attribute that to many people tuning in for many reasons.
posted by ZeusHumms at 5:56 PM on February 21, 2011


TVNZ live updates blog
posted by ZeusHumms at 5:59 PM on February 21, 2011


I was in the nose landing gear of a plane when it hit...I think I'll be going home with a few more grey hairs than I arrived with. Hope everyone down here is all ok.
posted by ironbob at 6:01 PM on February 21, 2011 [9 favorites]


Fingers crossed for my family and friends. Phew. Give Christchurch a break already!
posted by Dillonlikescookies at 6:05 PM on February 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Phone networks are overloaded across the entire country, so finding out about family down there is pretty much impossible.
posted by shelleycat at 6:06 PM on February 21, 2011


They suggest texting instead of voice calls to free the phone networks for emergency calls.
posted by ZeusHumms at 6:10 PM on February 21, 2011


This comes just as things were looking up for the recovery from the last quake - in the last couple of weeks Government had announced extra subsidies for accomodation costs for people who couldn't yet return to their homes, Christchurch mayor, business organisations etc had just had a positive co-ordination meeting. Plans to have infrastructure repairs completed by 2013 had been announced.

Talking online to Cantabrians since last September, many people have been unsettled by the first quake and the successive aftershocks - and just getting their kids to sleep again at night - although many interviewees today have been putting a brave face on as it happens "oops, there's another one (aftershock)" there is going to be a huge amount of emotional trauma as a result of this.
posted by Catch at 6:14 PM on February 21, 2011


Yeah, txting is why I put 'pretty much' impossible instead of totally impossible (also, many people are using twitter) but it's a lot like sending a message into a black hole at the moment. Also there are often older relatives who don't use mobile phones (like my Mum).

I guess we were lucky that the first one didn't hit on a week day like this, but it might also have been better if they were the other way around timing wise, given this one was shallow and close to the CBD.
posted by shelleycat at 6:23 PM on February 21, 2011


That's a lot of unreinforced brick and masonry! I get the willies just lookin' at it.

Is that just grandfathered in or is new construction allowed to use it?
posted by Justinian at 6:28 PM on February 21, 2011


grandfathered in. the cathedral was reinforced with wooden and steel beams on the interior etc. lots of heritage building, codes are fairly strict but it's a good shock and there's been lots of them so yeah
posted by Dillonlikescookies at 6:31 PM on February 21, 2011


Oh my god... fingers crossed for Christchurch, indeed.
posted by scody at 6:46 PM on February 21, 2011


Hurried due to making dinner, but!

Amanda Palmer and Jason Webley were to play a show in Christchurch tonight. Jason was in town but Amanda was not. Jason is reported ok on Twitter by @herasings, evidently another artist on the bill.

How do I know this? I asked @neilhimself about a halfhour after the quake to tweet whatever news he had, and he slid me Hera's tweets. The internet, she stuns me. Too bad she canna rebuild brick walls.
posted by mwhybark at 6:51 PM on February 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


tracicle & her immediate family are okay (checked in on Facebook)
posted by flex at 6:51 PM on February 21, 2011 [7 favorites]


Apparently a good way to contact family in NZ is ring family in Australia then get them to ring NZ. I don't know why international calls work and local ones don't, but am glad to get good news either way.
posted by shelleycat at 6:54 PM on February 21, 2011


oh, and the hash tag is #eqnz, although employment was spotty in the first hour.
posted by mwhybark at 6:55 PM on February 21, 2011


Inside the cathedral; Person finder; Twitter feed
posted by Paragon at 6:55 PM on February 21, 2011


While I lament the damage and the lives lost I gotta ask: does magnitude 6.3 constitute a "massive quake"?
posted by neuron at 7:03 PM on February 21, 2011


More from 7 News Sydney, including several videos.
posted by madamjujujive at 7:03 PM on February 21, 2011


I swear I just heard the BBC World Service say the hospital has been evacuated.
posted by mwhybark at 7:05 PM on February 21, 2011


does magnitude 6.3 constitute a "massive quake"?

It can do (or something close to 'massive' anyway) when it's near the surface, close to a big city centre during business hours, and has a high surface acceleration. The actual Richter scale number is only part of the story. This really was a violent, damaging event.
posted by shelleycat at 7:06 PM on February 21, 2011 [13 favorites]


neuron my first response was "6.3 is NOT a massive quake" but as the pics indicate thats just not true. depth of epicenter is one of sooo many factors that dictate level of damage beyond just magnitude. why did the Haiti quake (7.0) kill vastly greater numbers than the Chile quake (8.8)?

regardless, my best wishes to those in NZ. you are in my thoughts this evening.
posted by supermedusa at 7:07 PM on February 21, 2011


"does magnitude 6.3 constitute a "massive quake"?"

Massive in its consequences. There are plenty of damaged and unstable structures already from the last quake, not to mentioned traumatised people.

Also, 1G acceleration coming up from the ground is pretty fucking huge.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 7:07 PM on February 21, 2011


does magnitude 6.3 constitute a "massive quake"?

It's can be; in this case more destructive than the higher-magnitude quake that hit Christchurch last year because it was closer to the surface. Friends from NZ just FB'd me that parts of the city are totally devastated.

Here's more from my friend:
they've run out of ambulances. The first flight of injured people just arrived at Auckland airport half an hour ago

There's info here:
http://tvnz.co.nz/national-news/live-updates-christchurch-quake-4038261
http://www.3news.co.nz/Video/3Ne...wsLiveStream/tabid/876/Default.aspx
google #eqnz site:twitter.com
http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10707997
Civil Defence Minister John Carter said all the South Island hospitals apart from Invercargill had been emptied to make way for earthquake victims.
http://www.stuff.co.nz//4688231/Deaths-destruction-in-Christchurch-quake

It's all sounding awful. There's been so many aftershocks since last year that there's concern and discussion of PTSD - there's psychological health units all over canterbury that have been underused (there's worry too about people trying to be too stoic) - and now this.

The Salvation Army and Red Cross had been collecting donations for the region so I guess they still are.
posted by scody at 7:08 PM on February 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


neuron: "While I lament the damage and the lives lost I gotta ask: does magnitude 6.3 constitute a "massive quake""

neuron, the epicenter was in the harbor (? I think ?), less than five miles from the city, and less than three miles down, which is quite shallow. The ratings we see of quakes are intended to state the intensity of the quake at the epicenter. Since the epicenter was relatively close to the populated area, damage is quite intense.

Additionally, as noted upthread, brickwork appears to have been a predominant feature of the local architecture. There's pretty much no worse construction technique in the context of earthquake safety.
posted by mwhybark at 7:09 PM on February 21, 2011


ABC24 often lifts its geoblocking for this sort of thing: try it if you're looking for live coverage.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 7:10 PM on February 21, 2011


I should note the quake hit about noon local, just over two hours ago if i have it right.
posted by mwhybark at 7:10 PM on February 21, 2011


I should note the quake hit about noon local,

Actually, just before 1 pm (three hours ago now) when people would be heading back in after lunch. Not that it matters much, the city centre was full of people regardless.
posted by shelleycat at 7:14 PM on February 21, 2011


While I lament the damage and the lives lost I gotta ask: does magnitude 6.3 constitute a "massive quake"?


The Richter scale measurements can be misleading and confusing, another factor is the depth - this earthquake was only 5km 'deep'. The Mercalli scale is possibly a more easily understandable measurement of intensity.


Here's a map from geonet showing the mercalli ratings of reports from people who felt this earthquake throughout the South Island and in Wellington.
posted by Catch at 7:14 PM on February 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


Photos - looks awful.

Not wanting to sound all Pollyanna (and clearly there are fatalities), but the media's always going to focus on the big damage, which can throw things out of useful perspective.

Do we have any reports yet that give a proper sense of scale? Is it just a few old buildings that have collapsed or are we looking like something along the lines of what hit Mexico City in 1985?
posted by philip-random at 7:17 PM on February 21, 2011


Amanda Palmer and Jason Webley were to play a show in Christchurch tonight. Jason was in town but Amanda was not.

Thank goodness Amanda Palmer is safe.
posted by euphorb at 7:24 PM on February 21, 2011


Aw shit. Not again. Best wishes Christchurch folk.
posted by Ahab at 7:27 PM on February 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


My stomach dropped when I heard the news. I lived and worked in the Christchurch city centre (where most of the damage is) during 2009. To see familiar streets and buildings reduced to rubble is shocking. Especially the Christchurch Cathedral, for which the city was named.

All I can think about is hoping my friends and co-workers are okay.
posted by exquisite_deluxe at 7:28 PM on February 21, 2011


I haven't been downtown (as we're confined to the general airport/hangar area), but a lot of that looks like along Columbo St. which is mostly newer construction. September's quake softened a lot of the older structures up and this finished them off. The one church that is leveled was in the process of being shored back up. I was at the pub around the corner on Armagh St. just a few nights ago. My local friends are all OK, aside from one with a collapsed garage. What a crazy day...
posted by ironbob at 7:30 PM on February 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Do we have any reports yet that give a proper sense of scale? Is it just a few old buildings that have collapsed or are we looking like something along the lines of what hit Mexico City in 1985?

Philip-Random: You need to keep in mind the population of New Zealand is under four and a half million. The "few old buildings" you mention are in CBD, which is the city's highest density area. Whilst this might seem minor to people in other countries, us folks in Oceania have small populations and a reasonable amount of movement between countries. This is a Big Fucking Deal to all of us in the region. I'm in Australia and I'd most of us know people who have been affected.

What's more, the last major quake was six months ago and there have been thousands of aftershocks since then. The structural integrity of the city's buildings have been compromised, so the effects of this earthquake appear to be dire.
posted by Alice Russel-Wallace at 7:34 PM on February 21, 2011 [7 favorites]


Yes, this is one disaster where initial reports seem to be more positive than what the real devastation might be.
posted by Neale at 7:36 PM on February 21, 2011


From New Orleans, I have fingers and toes crossed that all will be as wel as possible in Chirstchurch.
posted by localroger at 7:37 PM on February 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


At least one friend of ours now has a totally destroyed house. Co-workers at a related firm are currently stuck under their desks with a collapsed roof trapping them and presumably a long wait to be fished out. This is actually pretty hard to absorb.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 7:37 PM on February 21, 2011


Due to the overloaded communications network, many of the trapped survivors are only just now getting their distress calls received/made public.

The worrying thing is how many people have yet to be discovered.
posted by Neale at 7:40 PM on February 21, 2011


apologies to linking to my own picture, but this is a newer building right on the square and there's a crack from the September quake you can follow the whole way up the wall. It's hard to make out, but this appears to be one of the ones that slideshow (it kind of looks like the Holy Grail & bus stop in the background).
posted by ironbob at 7:41 PM on February 21, 2011


In addition, some context for those not familiar with Christchurch. The Cathedral is a major landmark and is of great historical signficance to the city. It is roughly the equivalent of the Sydney Opera House for Christchurch (to the Kiwis in the house - please correct me if I'm wrong).
posted by Alice Russel-Wallace at 7:41 PM on February 21, 2011


Is it just a few old buildings that have collapsed or are we looking like something along the lines of what hit Mexico City in 1985?

Only four hours after the event, no one will be able to tell you the extent of the damage.
There isn't anywhere near the population in numbers or density of Mexico City, so the death toll will obviously be lower.

Although news media will be focusing on spectacular building demolitions in the central city, there are reports coming through of further soil liquefaction and infrastructure damage (burst watermains etc) in the suburbs.
There will be many homeless families tonight.
posted by Catch at 7:42 PM on February 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Philip-Random: You need to keep in mind the population of New Zealand is under four and a half million. The "few old buildings" you mention are in CBD, which is the city's highest density area.

All apologies if it sounded like I was trying to diminish things. Anything but. I've got friends there.
posted by philip-random at 7:44 PM on February 21, 2011


Do we have any reports yet that give a proper sense of scale? Is it just a few old buildings that have collapsed or are we looking like something along the lines of what hit Mexico City in 1985?

Pyne Gould Building: Before; After.
Not sure how that google maps link will resolve, but search "Pyne Gould Building". Street view didn't go down Cambridge Terrace, but you can see it from the adjoining streets.
posted by doublehappy at 7:45 PM on February 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Actually, before and after photo is the third image through the slideshow here.
posted by doublehappy at 7:46 PM on February 21, 2011


National radio says firefighters are attempting to rescue 33 people thought to be trapped in Pyne Gould.
posted by Catch at 7:47 PM on February 21, 2011


In addition, some context for those not familiar with Christchurch. The Cathedral is a major landmark and is of great historical signficance to the city. It is roughly the equivalent of the Sydney Opera House for Christchurch (to the Kiwis in the house - please correct me if I'm wrong).

Cathedral Square is the third best "street" in NZ Monopoly.
posted by doublehappy at 7:47 PM on February 21, 2011


Just heard about this. Thanks for the info on Christchurch. I wasn't familiar with it.
posted by lhc67 at 7:53 PM on February 21, 2011


Apparently there is a people finder up: http://christchurch-2011.person-finder.appspot.com/
posted by booksherpa at 7:56 PM on February 21, 2011


doublehappy, that slide show is horrific - and the video that is labeled as "the aftermath" is one of the most dramatic and horrifying things I have ever seen, my God, those poor people. I will be looking for places to donate to relief.
posted by madamjujujive at 7:59 PM on February 21, 2011


Civil Defense Minister just reported that telecommunications infrastructure is sufficiently overloaded and damaged that the CDM is unable and unwilling to estimate the number of people trapped, injured, or killed. (Source: the press conference I just watched live.)

Police have confirmed multiple fatalities (Source: several)

Authorities are asking people to text instead of calling their friends and family, as the phone lines are overloaded. (Source: New Zealand Herald, http://www.nzherald.co.nz/, Channel 7 news.)

There are a lot of reasons that this is a bad, bad earthquake: the epicentre was only 10km from the CBD and it was shallow (4-5 km); it was lunch hour on a weekday, so large numbers of people were concentrated in and around office buildings; buildings may have been under repair from the last quake; there have been four high-energy aftershocks.
posted by gingerest at 8:00 PM on February 21, 2011


Hashalbum for #eqnz. Lots of photos from all over.

Twitter-populated event map, but I don't know how much use it's getting.

Ugh, I still don't know how most of my family are down there. With phone and texing more or less down for searching/non-emergency stuff, there's only twitter, and none of my family are on it.

The Christchurch cathedral's being getting hit by earthquakes since it went up, but it's still bloody horrible seeing it ripped up like that.
posted by roobot at 8:00 PM on February 21, 2011


Also, yeah, lots of stone and brick buildings down there. Canterbury's not really meant to get all the earthquakes. Wellington, which is supposed to be far more susceptible, is mainly built in wood (and stabilisers), but hasn't had anything really massive for a very very long time.
posted by roobot at 8:05 PM on February 21, 2011


Just want to reinforce that doublehappy's link has astounding photos, including the devastating before and after of a newish looking building. It's hard to get a sense of the severity of the damage until you see the photos.
posted by threeturtles at 8:11 PM on February 21, 2011


My thoughts are with everyone in CHCH.
posted by New England Cultist at 8:11 PM on February 21, 2011


I have no words right now, hence the sporadic and somewhat flippant links and comments, but my thoughts are with everyone in Christchurch and their families.

It pays to mention that, from my understanding, New Zealand has some of the highest building standard requirements in the world and there is a strong culture of compliance in the construction industry. This is in part thanks to the Napier and Murchison earthquakes earlier in the century. In the 1970s there was a big push to bring heritage buildings up to code as well. So when you see buildings flattened it's not because they were thrown up overnight without anyone thinking about it. It's because this was a very shallow and explosive (I'm reading 1G acceleration in some areas) earthquake coming after 6 months of almost daily earthquakes since the deeper 7.1 earthquake on September 4.

My government department's Director of Communications just sent an email from emergency services requesting that nobody make cellphone calls anywhere in the country. Our Christchurch office has been evacuated and all of our staff are confirmed safe, but there are a number of emails flying around the office asking people to find out about others. I can see some huge political pushes for infrastructure funding and this is going to have a major impact on the November election here (and the election will have a huge impact on Christchurch - I'm not playing politics).

The Sumner Cliff collapse drills home the fact that earthquakes are not single day, single issue disasters. They bring landslides, floods, and fires along with their shaking and aftershocks. My friend's family had just got their home up to code again from the last earthquake (signed off last week) and this will devastate them, and I would imagine that pain pales in comparison to those that have lost people.
posted by doublehappy at 8:14 PM on February 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


Donate to the New Zealand Red Cross here.
posted by wilful at 8:19 PM on February 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


Link seems to be broken, wilful. Here's hoping it's just getting a lot of traffic.
posted by Ahab at 8:23 PM on February 21, 2011


Cripes, the aftermath video from doublehappy's link shows the shop where I used to work. The video briefly shows a body in front of it. The injuries/deaths are likely to be high on this street, as it's a pedestrian mall where many people would have been walking around at lunchtime. I hope the rest of Christchurch isn't this bad. :(
posted by exquisite_deluxe at 8:25 PM on February 21, 2011


The NZ Ministry of Civil Defence website is being updated regularly, and links through to the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery website which was set up as an information hub for recovery efforts from the first earthquake. Scroll down on the front page of the latter to find a list of other links and information about aid and donations.
posted by doublehappy at 8:29 PM on February 21, 2011


The hard thing about seeing the effects of any earthquake for me are seeing how some buildings are completely destroyed, and how neighboring buildings are perfectly fine. I know it's a function of many many things, including local geology and building construction. Still.

Thoughts and good vibes to Christchurch.
posted by ZeusHumms at 8:30 PM on February 21, 2011


Aerial footage from Channel 3.
posted by madamjujujive at 8:38 PM on February 21, 2011


Donate to the New Zealand Red Cross here.
posted by wilful at 8:19 PM on February 21 [+] [!]

Link seems to be broken, wilful. Here's hoping it's just getting a lot of traffic.
posted by Ahab at 8:23 PM on February 21 [+] [!]


Just worked for me on the second try.
posted by Ahab at 8:38 PM on February 21, 2011


brickwork appears to have been a predominant feature of the local architecture.

Brick is strong in compression (when something pushes on it, like the weight of a building) but weak in tension (when it's stretched) and in shear (when it's twisted).

I think an earthquake is like a wave moving through the earth, which will compress brick on the crest of the wave, but impart tension forces in the trough of the wave, and shear on a wall as different of the wall receive different forces.
posted by orthogonality at 8:44 PM on February 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Aerial footage from Channel 3.

I think this might be live coverage.

The collapsing awnings, verandahs, facades, etc. are so sudden and violent. They just showed footage of a verandah collapsing and the people on the street had about a second to react to the sound before it fell.
posted by doublehappy at 8:45 PM on February 21, 2011


^and the collapses aren't limited to the moments during or shortly after the quake - they can fall at any time.
posted by doublehappy at 8:46 PM on February 21, 2011


The initial video in doublehappy's link above (Aftermath of Christchurch quake) is difficult to watch. Terrifying, graphic. Not that we shouldn't watch it, but fair warning that there are dead bodies and severely injured people shown.

Made me quite emotional. I feel for everybody in Christchurch.
posted by rachaelfaith at 9:04 PM on February 21, 2011


The confirmed death toll tonight was 17, Civil Defence director John Hamilton said, but Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker said "at least dozens of people" were dead.
posted by doublehappy at 9:10 PM on February 21, 2011


This comment on nzherald.co.nz surprised me: Samuel Dysart: Just felt it. Hit the lyttleton harbour. We are on the ship hmnzs canterbury. It was quite a shake.
posted by doublehappy at 9:14 PM on February 21, 2011


65 confirmed dead.
posted by dydecker at 9:22 PM on February 21, 2011


Last count I heard was 65 dead. This is getting right up there on NZ scale with our worst civilian disasters.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 9:22 PM on February 21, 2011


Oh, lord - death toll revised up to 65.
posted by madamjujujive at 9:23 PM on February 21, 2011


I've been helping keep a local news site going and ironically have only just had time to start watching vid footage. I want to cry but I'm still at my desk.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 9:25 PM on February 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


Red Cross site working for me. Poor NZ, hope you recover quickly, my thoughts are with you.
posted by arcticseal at 9:27 PM on February 21, 2011


I've been helping keep a local news site going

I noticed all the local sites went down on and off in the half hour after this happened, but then came back up and have continued working solidly since (including lots of updates). As someone with quite a lot of family in Christchurch I really appreciate this, so thanks.
posted by shelleycat at 9:30 PM on February 21, 2011


Not sure if I can publicly name the smart and concerned upstream providers who got their bandwidth shit together in a hurry, but everyone's been good. Personally I'm glad I'm not in a newsroom right now. Everyone has friends and family to worry about but they have the firehose of horrible things to look at as well and they can't turn away.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 9:39 PM on February 21, 2011


Wellington Airport is now asking for offers of available accommodation (for stranded travellers) to be emailed to:

confcent@wellingtonairport.co.nz

Please provide your name, contact phone number, type of accommodation (i.e. number of beds), and whether you can pick people up from the airport. Many thanks.
posted by Catch at 9:45 PM on February 21, 2011


I am so so sorry for all of you who have family, friends, loved ones & country mates that you are worried about. This is so ghastly, what a sadness.
posted by madamjujujive at 9:46 PM on February 21, 2011


Good work getting Stuff back up this morning, Stephen.

To put the power in perspective for those confused by the Richter scale difference between September and this quake; September's higher-Richter quake caused 0.8g of movement on the surface. This one caused 1g. So despite the lower Richter rating this quake was 25% more powerful than the September one. Since it was in the middle of the day, more people were in offices or on the street, and of course many buildings still have damage or weakness from the earlier quake. This is so, so much worse than last time.

My office is in Wellington, and mostly ground to a halt during the afternoon. We're one of two main offices for a nationwide bank, and a lot of our staff in Wellington are from Christchurch originally; a lot of people ended up leaving early. A few were getting on the ferries today and tomorrow, hoping to drive down and help out family and friends.
posted by rodgerd at 9:53 PM on February 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Eh, mostly I just relayed information from the news people to the IT people and back -- it's my colleagues who found all the kinks in our system that were revealed by an order of magnitude more load than usual.

Now that I've been able to get into the news stream myself I'm very glad to have a had a few hours distraction.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 10:22 PM on February 21, 2011


Latest updates include: whole suburbs rendered uninhabitable, multiple buses crushed, and an unknown number of people still trapped who will be there overnight.

As well as the brutal human cost to the folks in Christchurch - per capita this is the equivalent of two WTCs of dead already - the economic damage is going to be vast. The last quake was esitmated to have cost a bit under 2% of our GDP, more than the total cost of the US financial crisis and bailout. This will be even more significant.
posted by rodgerd at 10:33 PM on February 21, 2011


rodgerd, the mercalli maps are showing strong shaking in Wellington. Any damage there?
posted by Ahab at 10:40 PM on February 21, 2011


Got home from a fun night out to this news. Have family, many friends there and am currently going through facebook trying to see if everyone has posted. Argh.
posted by gaspode at 10:42 PM on February 21, 2011


My girlfriend is in Los Angeles at the moment. She's travelling with her friends, one of whom is from Christchurch. His family is fine but his house is missing a couple of walls apparently. Anyway, they had NZ Prime Minister John Key on the news but they referred to him as John Hamilton, Press Secretary of New Zealand.
posted by doublehappy at 10:42 PM on February 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


Ahab: I felt but the slightest hint of a tremor on level 7 of a 9 story building when there was an aftershock a couple of hours ago, and it might have been all in my head. Not sure where those maps you're looking at are, but Wellington is fine.

I've been staring at all the masonry round here pretty hard, I can tell you.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 10:43 PM on February 21, 2011


Also just in to this news and now looking for word from friends; my heart goes out to all of Christchurch.
posted by faineant at 10:45 PM on February 21, 2011


Before and after photos of some of the destruction and local tweets as the earthquake hit. An absolute tragedy. My thoughts go out to any and all affected.
posted by notionoriety at 10:47 PM on February 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


Not that I'm aware of - I certainly felt the shake, with everyone stopping and saying "woah" at the time; it felt like a minute of quite noticeable motion, but not enough to rattle things around.

Another point upthread I'd like to address; building codes in New Zealand are incredibly strict in many places. New Wellington office blocks are rated for an *8* on the Richter scale, and building engineers who want to understand state-of-the-art earthquake-proofing come here from overseas. Wellington's probably the strictest (along with Napier-Hastings), but most cities have tight regulations (which "developers" whine about, natch).

Christchurch probably isn't as strict, though, because it's generally been considered the most physically stable and safest of our major cities - there's been some small flooding in the past, and that's about it. Most of the focus is on Wellington (built on a major fault line) and Auckland (built on an active volcanic field).

Worth noting that for brick buildings most New Zealand brick buildings have brick cladding - the framing is generally wood or steel. Obviously the brick collapsing isn't good, but it's not necessarily structural damage.
posted by rodgerd at 10:50 PM on February 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm moving back home to Wellington, where I've lived most of my life, on Thursday. I've never been more than mildly apprehensive, but now I can't think of a safe street in the CBD. Maybe high end of Taranaki or Victoria Streets, but Customhouse Quay will be underwater and so will Kent/Cambridge but the whole place is supposed to liquefy anyway. And I wonder if maybe the risk is worse now?
posted by doublehappy at 10:51 PM on February 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Thanks i_am_joe's_spleen. Friends in an old stone house there, can't get in touch, so that's a little bit of reassurance for me.
posted by Ahab at 10:51 PM on February 21, 2011


The footage of people camped out in Hagley park, tent triage, flattened brick buildings - there's an almost indescribable added layer of surreality for me, as I live in Napier, and we've recently commemorated the 1931 earthquake and held Art Deco Weekend.

It's hard to pin down, but perhaps it's because the '31 images are so fresh in my mind right now, and today's tragedy is like seeing history repeated - I think I never really dreamt I'd see anything so like it in my lifetime.
posted by Catch at 10:53 PM on February 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Public Address has a very useful collection of links.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 10:53 PM on February 21, 2011


Thanks for all those who have been able to contribute more information. My thoughts go out to all those who have lost someone or been injured.
After the original earthquake, the insurance companies got really strict on policies for homes. My father hasn't been able to get his house insured yet, I hope it's not badly damaged. As mentioned above the death and injuries are the biggest immediate effect but this will have long term consequences for everyone in the city.
posted by Dillonlikescookies at 10:55 PM on February 21, 2011


An Agony. No reply to emails to a friend there since it happened... No Phone.
posted by marvin at 10:57 PM on February 21, 2011


Don't know if it would help, but TXTs seem to be going through, if people have cell numbers I can probably TXT on their behalf. MeMail me if needed.
posted by arruns at 10:59 PM on February 21, 2011


Dillonlikescookies: I'm not sure what the status of the protection is now, but the EQC will be able to offer some financial compensation and contribution to rebuilding etc.
posted by doublehappy at 10:59 PM on February 21, 2011


My office is in Wellington, and this afternoon became insane. When the last quake hit, my very new team of three were left to cover for the (vastly more experienced) ChCh office, whose building had a couple of cracks in it (we do govt websites for the record). Somehow we pulled it off.

This afternoon, now we've been bedded down for a while, we became the focal point of a mini-maelstrom of government uncertainty - our work, plus their work, still needing to be done, plus all the extra that comes with being responsible for (some minor) related government response ( I would not like to be the Ministry of Civil Defense's web team right about now - still, it was a toss up between them and us originally, and they won the toss).

At the same time, while we learned the chch members of our team were OK via text, people we have now met and worked with for months, we have no knowledge of their families or homes. We just know that tomorrow starts very, very early.

Added to this, my partner went to her cousin's funeral today, and when I finally walked home after hours of phonecalls and wrestling with emergency code, a thread caught in the velcro of my laptop bag and ripped the seam of my trousers right down my left leg, exposing my thigh to the world - it's now held together with staples and safety pins.

If trouble comes in threes, we may have seen the worst of it. Somehow I doubt it.
posted by Sparx at 11:02 PM on February 21, 2011


Argh, FOAF stuck in 10th floor of damaged building. No way out.

Irony: my sister in law, in Chch, is phoning my partner, in Wellington, because she's stuck with no power and no news and flat batteries.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 11:10 PM on February 21, 2011


TOO MUCH DEATH TODAY
posted by dirigibleman at 11:12 PM on February 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's 8.15pm here in NZ - it will be dark soon.
posted by Catch at 11:15 PM on February 21, 2011


I fear another big problem will be around the hospital - we've been trying to control public healthcare costs by centralising expensive expertise in areas like neurology, children's oncology and so on in a few hospitals. In many cases that means there's a lot of specialties you can only get in Auckland and Christchurch hospitals; there will probably be a flow-on effect with people across the South Island unable to get care in those areas.
posted by rodgerd at 11:17 PM on February 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Tasman Glacier was shaken so hard it's disgorged icebergs.
posted by rodgerd at 11:58 PM on February 21, 2011


Well well... No Xmas For John Key, huh?
posted by Philby at 12:05 AM on February 22, 2011


Thing on One News said 30 Million Tons of ice had broken off Tasman Glacier...
posted by sycophant at 12:08 AM on February 22, 2011


Aw, hell. I've fallen out of touch with most of the people I know in Christchurch (time and distance will do a lot), but it's a tremendously important place to me and I'm thinking about a bunch of folks tonight.
posted by brennen at 12:16 AM on February 22, 2011


ABC collection of photos; helicopter footage of the city; Lyttleton video.

Luckily there was a doctors' conference in the city, which is something.

Air ambulances have been dispatched from Wellington and Auckland to help.

I am absolutely stunned that anyone survived the PGG building collapse.
posted by rodgerd at 12:23 AM on February 22, 2011


Feel so helpless on the other side of the world. My thoughts are with everyone in Christchurch, Kia Kaha.

It pays to mention that, from my understanding, New Zealand has some of the highest building standard requirements in the world and there is a strong culture of compliance in the construction industry.

Bill English [a senior Government Minister] here: " said the force of the earthquake was above the limit modern buildings were designed to withstand. "
posted by Infinite Jest at 12:39 AM on February 22, 2011


Wellington Airport is now asking for offers of available accommodation (for stranded travellers) to be emailed to:

confcent@wellingtonairport.co.nz


They've updated their FB page to say they have all the acccommodation they need.
posted by Infinite Jest at 12:45 AM on February 22, 2011


Air New Zealand has announced extra flights, ticket flexibility, and a flat $50 rate for flights to or from Christchurch from any domestic airport until 8am on Friday morning.

They expect to be operating out of Christchurch airport tomorrow from 8am.
posted by Catch at 12:46 AM on February 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


A seismologist was on TV a little while ago saying acceleration reached 1.5G. Huge.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 12:54 AM on February 22, 2011


Three News: "unconfirmed reports" that death toll could top 200. That puts it as potentially NZ's worst ever disaster.
posted by Infinite Jest at 12:59 AM on February 22, 2011


Infinite Jest - I was just looking at that article. I think it is just wild speculation at this stage. Watching the various press conferences online, it seems like all the reporters are asking for numbers afterwards. I mean, I don't think they are wrong necessarily, but it seems irresponsible of them to be sticking a number on it already to me. Let's hope it doesn't end up being that high :(
posted by jzed at 1:05 AM on February 22, 2011


TV3 seems to be the least reliable source today - earlier claims that the hospital had been evacuated, etc.

Having said that, sadly it seems likely that there will be a death toll that high, going by estimates of the missing and trapped.
posted by Catch at 1:07 AM on February 22, 2011


Yeah, good points guys. Sorry, I've only just woke up up so this is still hitting me.
posted by Infinite Jest at 1:13 AM on February 22, 2011


So twice as bad as the September shake? Incredible.

TV3's pros have been that they were on the ground early and they stopped advertising for the day. The cons wehere the hamfisted interviewing of people ("and how do you feel?") and the running unfiltered meant they ended up running a lot of stuff that wasn't true.
posted by rodgerd at 1:22 AM on February 22, 2011


I'm so sorry to have just heard about this. It's absolutely shocking. I really hope it doesn't get worse.
posted by h00py at 1:22 AM on February 22, 2011


Yeah, I tried switching to the TV3 coverage while waiting for the Bob Parker press conference (just before 9pm), and wasn't impressed when I got a bunch of shaky footage with very little in the way of voiceover (which unfortunately did include some unedited footage of dead bodies) and they then cut to a commercial break.
posted by jzed at 1:26 AM on February 22, 2011


google person finder, not sure if posted yet but wanted to post straight away before reading through all the comments.
posted by Raunchy 60s Humour at 1:26 AM on February 22, 2011


Both One and Three News have been asking stupid questions: "Can you describe the woman's injuries?" "No." "Well, can you give us some idea of what happened to her." "No, I obviously can't give out details of that nature about people." "What about other people who have been rescued?" "No."

A lot has been made of the PGG Wrightson building (see above), but there doesn't seem to be much coverage of the CTV building, which now looks like this. 20 people have walked out and 6 people have been pulled out, but no word on their condition. Apparently there are 120 people still in there. Only the stairs and lift shaft are still standing. It's also on fire.

I don't even know what to say.
posted by doublehappy at 1:42 AM on February 22, 2011


Very interesting that the damage is not well correlated with the Richter magnitude. I feel the need to research the depths of past quakes so I can recalibrate my bad-earthquake-o-meter. Until today, it went something like this:
5 - clean up with broom
6 - noteworthy, gets own wikipedia article
7 - significant damage
8 - very bad (no personal experience)

So the geologists say 6.3, but the pics say 7.X, which is a very large difference. Quite worrisome, too, as 6-ish quakes happen all the damn time. 7s are rare.
posted by ryanrs at 1:52 AM on February 22, 2011


Depth is a critical part of the picture, ryan.
posted by rodgerd at 1:54 AM on February 22, 2011


ryanrs, you've got to consider depth, distance from buildings, geography of the area (material, profile, etc.), and a range of other variables. In 2009, a 7.8 earthquake struck Fiordland (which has a population of about zero) and it was the largest earthquake (on the richter scale) in 80 years in New Zealand and even created a small tsunami but it had very little effect on civilisation.

The type of earthquake matters, too. I can't remember all of high school geography, but there are different types of plate movement (subduction, thrusting, etc. please don't take my word for it, I may have made those words up). Some produce rolling motions, others produce sudden jerks. Some life the land, others push the land sideways. Consider the different effects on buildings between sideways quakes and upward quakes. Many or most are combinations of both these types of movements. Again, I made this up from my memory of 4th form geography so maybe double check wikipedia.
posted by doublehappy at 2:03 AM on February 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


After 14 years of earthquake experience in Japan my heart goes out to the people in Christchurch. Must have been and with the aftershocks continuing to be terrifying. I hope the healing can begin soon.
posted by gomichild at 2:09 AM on February 22, 2011


Yeah, I've lived in the SF Bay Area for over 30 years, so I'm fairly familiar with earthquakes. I notice the Northridge quake was fairly deep, 19 km, yet still produced quite high ground acceleration of around 1.0 g. What I'd really like to see is a USGS Shake Map, but I don't suppose they'll have those for New Zealand.
posted by ryanrs at 2:10 AM on February 22, 2011


For comparison, the 1994 Northridge Earthquake which was "one of the costliest natural disasters in U.S. history" (and which I was 2.5 miles east of the epicenter when it happened) was a 6.7 with ground acceleration that exceeded 1.0g at several sites in the area with the highest value of 1.8g a few miles south. Deaths related to the quake were reported at 57-60 (although some have claimed up to 72).

Seven years ago (before I moved to this area) there was a 6.5 near San Simeon (rural area near Hearst Castle) but the worst damage was 24 miles away in Paso Robles where two underground sulfur hot springs erupted (that's a WTF?!? scene) and a few buildings that had not yet gotten a mandatory earthquake reinforcement collapsed. Only 2 deaths, in one of those buildings. If that one had been as close to the center of town as the new Christchurch quake, the death toll would've been much higher because there were a lot of unreinforced buildings that did survive it.
posted by oneswellfoop at 2:12 AM on February 22, 2011


Oh, they totally do! Christchurch Shake Map.

(Huh, still doesn't look like a big earthquake.)
posted by ryanrs at 2:16 AM on February 22, 2011


Google Crisis Response page: (includes links to the People Finder, mentioned above), but lots of other info as well (GMap with location-specific news, Twitter feed, news feed etc).
posted by Infinite Jest at 2:27 AM on February 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


The 1992 Landers earthquake was huge and near the surface (7.3 M, 1.0 km). Nobody lives in Landers, though, so it's hard to compare the damage.

Very unusual earthquake. I'm looking forward to more discussion of the shaking vs. destruction once the city is out of crisis mode. This is the kind of event that changes building codes far from where the shaking was felt.

More shake maps:
6.9 Loma Prieta
6.7 Northridge
6.3 Christchurch
posted by ryanrs at 2:54 AM on February 22, 2011


As I was watching the footage, and seeing some buildings where I've worked, had some great memories, places I used to meet friends reduced to rubble, it was pretty hard emotionally, even knowing that my family is okay. For those who haven't been to the city the whole CBD is full of some really amazing buildings, designed by some pretty well reknowned architects.
One thing though as I was watching I saw people in overalls and suits alongside each other digging through rubble for people and carrying wounded into each others cars to be taken to hospital (more injured than ambulences and police cars). I couldn't help but feel proud to see my home town in action helping each other.
posted by Dillonlikescookies at 3:21 AM on February 22, 2011


Aerial Photos here
posted by Dillonlikescookies at 4:51 AM on February 22, 2011


Just heard about this...best wishes to all our Kiwi cousins, hey.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:04 AM on February 22, 2011


Bonehead and I were in Christchurch for our honeymoon in November 2009 - it's heartbreaking to see such a beautiful city devastated like this. Our thoughts are with you.
posted by LN at 6:58 AM on February 22, 2011


We're talking about this in my Crisis Communication class right now. Seconding best wishes to everyone over there.
posted by janepanic at 7:35 AM on February 22, 2011


This may seem a little far-fetched, but, within 24 hours prior to the earthquake, more than a hundred whales beached themselves on the New Zealand Coast. Do you suppose the "explosion" under the sea, leading up to the earthquake, was so intense the whales beached themselves to escape it, or to escape the frequencies emitted by the activities leading up to the earthquake? I am not such a romantic, to think they were warning New Zealand. But, I wonder if previous large sea evacuations of whales, are connected to impending geologic activity? I am sure they are distressed by other man-made under sea activity.
posted by Oyéah at 8:02 AM on February 22, 2011


What undersea explosion?
posted by ryanrs at 8:11 AM on February 22, 2011


Google Timeline: new zealand beached whales

Looks like groups of whales beach themselves in New Zealand all the damn time. Obviously they are creating false positives to mask their extrasensory powers of earthquake prediction. Stupid whales.
posted by ryanrs at 8:30 AM on February 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


.
posted by Tarumba at 9:13 AM on February 22, 2011


I've got a friend from the US who's visiting New Zealand at the moment. I don't know if he was in Christchurch or not. Nobody's been able to get ahold of him since the quake happened. I know that communication is disrupted, so we're not getting too worried, but if we were to try to find him, where could we start?

The Google People Finder hasn't got him yet.
posted by MrVisible at 9:24 AM on February 22, 2011


Was the church that was all fenced off under construction?
posted by Mitheral at 9:44 AM on February 22, 2011


I'm sure the people who've lost homes and relatives relly appreciate people repeating "huh,. doesn't look like a big earthquake".
posted by rodgerd at 10:13 AM on February 22, 2011 [7 favorites]


MrVisible: This is part of the Red Cross' standard disaster response mission: reuniting friends and family. American Red Cross uses the "Safe and Well" online tool which lets people in a disaster-affected-region upload their safe & well status and lets other check for it. As I recall, it's in use by Red Cross organizations worldwide. I don't know for certain that Red Cross NZ uses/promotes the Safe and Well tool, but Red Cross NZ/Red Cross Christchurch will have some system in place to help connect them with their friends and family. Red Cross NZ's server is completely slammed, but call your local chapter, if it's a large enough local chapter, they may be able to connect you to some information.

New Zealand Red Cross
32 Birmingham Drive
Christchurch 8024, New Zealand
(03) 339 7111
posted by crush-onastick at 10:17 AM on February 22, 2011


Mitheral, that was the Knox Presbyterian, built in 1902 - it was damaged in the September Quake.

7.15am, those who slept last night are waking to more speculation on the death toll, more and more detailed horror stories. It rained overnight in Christchurch.

8 people confirmed rescued overnight from the Pyne Gould Guiness building, and 3 from Canterbury TV.
posted by Catch at 10:21 AM on February 22, 2011


I know a lot of people going to Christchurch to help over the next couple of days (if they can get there) and I can't help but feel that things are going to get much worse than they have been. Aftershocks are still frequent, and they have potential to be as dangerous as the original quake/aftershock. There's widespread (though shallow) flooding, and a lot of injured people who spent the night in the rain, and don't have homes to go back to. I wish we could do more than just talk about it on here but then I wonder how much help we'd be.
posted by doublehappy at 10:43 AM on February 22, 2011


First hand account from David Haywood.

It was a lovely house.

We are going to have a big problem very soon. There are many households with nowhere to go in the medium term. I imagine people can cope with a few days in a tent, but not weeks or months.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 11:02 AM on February 22, 2011


within 24 hours prior to the earthquake, more than a hundred whales beached themselves on the New Zealand Coast.

Oh no! They're beached, bro. They're beached as!

Joking aside, they were probably just trying to hide from the Japanese.
posted by UbuRoivas at 11:32 AM on February 22, 2011


I am sorry for the damage in New Zealand and the loss of life.

By "explosion" causing whales to beach themselves, I meant radical movement in the sea floor that might make sound, or set off a set of low wave emissions, or anything that causes distress to whales, so that they beach themselves because of the intolerable nature of the events to their nervous systems.

If whales beach themselves all the time there, it might be worth setting up some equipment in the sea to monitor noise or wave forms, to give a clue about noise and earth movement, to look for warnings of earthquakes or whale death, or a connection between the three things.
posted by Oyéah at 11:57 AM on February 22, 2011


Oyeah: Or we could stop polluting the ocean with unnaturally loud noises and see if that makes a difference. /derail
posted by Soupisgoodfood at 12:40 PM on February 22, 2011


The US created massive underwater microphone networks during the Cold War to listen for Soviet submarines. Some of these systems are now used for scientific research. We also have a very large number of seismometer stations to record ground vibrations. Why use dead whales to detect these phenomena when (1) we can measure them directly, and (2) whale beachings don't seem to be related to earthquakes anyway.

Soupisgoodfood, the Maori have art and cultural traditions centered around beached whales. That would seem to preclude modern man-made noise sources as the cause for this behavior.
posted by ryanrs at 12:57 PM on February 22, 2011


I'm sure the people who've lost homes and relatives really appreciate people repeating "huh,. doesn't look like a big earthquake".

Seriously.

To everyone who isn't from NZ: it's a fairly good bet that everyone who is from NZ either knows someone who was killed in this quake, or knows someone who knows someone who was. Your idiotic comments about whales and 'oh, doesn't look too big' are really not appropriate.
posted by Infinite Jest at 12:58 PM on February 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


I've got a friend from the US who's visiting New Zealand at the moment. I don't know if he was in Christchurch or not. Nobody's been able to get ahold of him since the quake happened. I know that communication is disrupted, so we're not getting too worried, but if we were to try to find him, where could we start?

Twitter? Facebook? (People are retweeting "has anyone seen my friend?" type messages).

On the positive side, NZ is a big place and Christchurch isn't one of the main tourist attractions.
posted by Infinite Jest at 1:00 PM on February 22, 2011


MrVisible: NZ Red Cross people search phone number is +64 7 850 2199. (from here).
posted by Infinite Jest at 1:02 PM on February 22, 2011


Just to kill the whale thing (and FFS, what is wrong with you people), explore Geonet. Note how distributed seismographs are and how small some of the reported tremors are. Anything big enough and close enough to disturb pilot whale sonar will already be noted.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 1:04 PM on February 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Crowdsourced updates here.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 1:05 PM on February 22, 2011


Your idiotic comments about whales and 'oh, doesn't look too big' are really not appropriate.

Apologies for any insensitivity there about the whales. For what it's worth, pretty much anybody in Australia also knows people in Christchurch or knows somebody who knows somebody there. There aren't many degrees of separation across the ditch.
posted by UbuRoivas at 1:23 PM on February 22, 2011


First hand account from inside the Press building. Terrifying shit.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 1:25 PM on February 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm sure the people who've lost homes and relatives really appreciate people repeating "huh, doesn't look like a big earthquake".

That was in reference to the computer generated maps, and how they seemed understated relative to the destruction that actually occurred.

The reason this is interesting to me is precisely because the damage is so great. The loss of life is very high for a medium sized city with well-engineered buildings.

When a big earthquake hits Pakistan and 75,000 people die, I know it is because their building codes are no good. But when a big earthquake hits New Zealand and a hundred people die, I worry that it is because my building codes are not good.
posted by ryanrs at 1:26 PM on February 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


ryanrs: I think it will turn out that a lot of yesterday's damage was in buildings that were already weakened by last year's quake and not yet repaired. Eg, my friend's house which literally broke in half was waiting to have foundations relaid -- too late now.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 1:37 PM on February 22, 2011


There have been something like 4000 aftershocks since September 4 and an understandable shortage of surveyors, engineers, and tradespeople with which to get the city back up to code. The EQC is still assessing claims from months ago such was the damage caused in September and by the Boxing Day aftershock. By all accounts this has been well co-ordinated, but even if they had managed to get every building back to standard, in fact, even if there hadn't been an earthquake in September, this one would have caused significant damage. It's depth and orientation combined with the type of rock and soil in the area made this earthquake/aftershock, despite it only being 6.3 on the Richter Scale, exceed the power anticipated by the building code.
posted by doublehappy at 1:59 PM on February 22, 2011


CSM: "Why Tuesday's New Zealand earthquake was deadlier than previous one"

The reasons, specialists say:

* The epicenter for Tuesday's quake, six miles from town and three miles deep, was far closer to Christchurch than the September quake, which occurred at the same depth, but with an epicenter some 30 miles west of the city.
* Tuesday's temblor struck during the middle of a work day, when buildings downtown were packed with people.
* While many of the buildings that collapsed Tuesday were older brick buildings in the city center, some buildings that otherwise might have withstood Tuesday's quake had yet to be repaired following September's event, and so also sustained heavy damage.
posted by prinado at 2:00 PM on February 22, 2011


This might be fucked up, but I'd much rather donate money to the New Zealand quake relief effort, knowing that the infrastructure is there for it to be used and not stolen, than I would donate to somewhere like Haiti.
posted by elder18 at 2:01 PM on February 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


German backpacker Michael Erdtmann, who was staying at the Friendz Hostel on Worcester Street before being forced to spend the night in the park, said he had been given a hard hat last night and a can of spray paint and told to go and mark the crushed cars of people with bodies in them.

He discovered six bodies in a bus and eight bodies in crushed cars.

posted by doublehappy at 2:04 PM on February 22, 2011


Thanks for the concern, mefites, it means a lot.

My family and I are safe at my parents' place, two hours south. Yesterday when the quake hit I was teaching 48 five-year-olds, who were sitting on the floor or at tables. My co-teacher and I felt the initial shake and started to move the kids under the tables, but it almost instantly magnified and we were both knocked off our feet, she on top of some of the children and I onto a table. Some children were using computers in an adjoining room; they dived for cover but one said after that a computer fell on him (he didn't seem to be hurt though; so either it was only a keyboard or mouse or similar, or it mostly missed).

We are in a brand-new building which only opened at the start of school four weeks ago and it did its job perfectly. Objects were flying and our bifold doors were swinging wildly from their tracks at the top but the kids were clear of everything. We filed them out to the school field and lined them up and by now several were (understandably) hysterical and panicked. I almost panicked myself when we walked out the door and were confronted by asphalt zigzagged with cracks and silt and water flowing out of the ground around us. We got the kids sitting on the field and parents were already running into school to find their babies - this was probably less than five minutes from the initial jolt.

The teachers stayed until their children were all gone; I stayed until 5:30 and one of my children and three teachers were still there. Her mother had txted to say she was trying to get there and had been stuck in traffic for hours. One mother had run, barefoot, from her job in the CBD to find her child, probably a good five kilometres.

Hubby txted me to say our bookcase at home had fallen down; that was our main damage. I don't think he realised how severe it was elsewhere, although power, phone and water were out at home. My first txt back to him was "Oh god it's horrible here".

The school was entirely surrounded by flooding and silt knee-deep. I drove on the footpath until I found road clear enough to drive on, which fortunately was only a couple of hundred metres. Cars were buried in silt halfway up their doors. What amazed me was that within a kilometre of the school, on the ring road, the quake damage disappeared. QE2 drive was free of cracks and silt and I didn't see any other indications on my drive home aside from slow traffic and one house where the cladding had dropped off at one end.

Our school is quite seriously damaged and it was honestly a miracle that no one was hurt. One teacher said they couldn't evacuate through the front door because the wall had shifted; shelves came loose and fell where a child had been sitting. They evacuated through the back door and when she went to look later, that side of the building was as bad as the front - the walls had all skewed off to crazy angles and windows were on the verge of falling to the ground. There's a crack that runs along the ground, up the concrete steps and into the school office and library. When I left, many of the doors into the buildings were stuck open and will probably have to stay that way, meaning we risk looters snagging pretty much whatever they want. The field is a mess of silt, and people are camped in tents on the grassy areas because the houses around the school are unlivable.

My own children are fine; they were out on the playground at the time. My daughter has been anxious since the September quake and this one really hit her hard. She was attached to a teacher when my husband arrived to collect them. They are happier now we are out of town. Their school is fine as far as I know, although we definitely cannot return to school or work for three days, probably longer depending on water supply and quality in our part of town.

This one felt much more severe than September: I read that the acceleration of this one was a lot higher, which I guess is why we were knocked off our feet - in the last one it was more like trying to walk on a boat in a big swell, doable if tricky. This time there was no moving around. In the last quake the school was untouched. After this one, I think we'll be demolishing at least one block of classrooms as well as bulldozing and/or repairing the grounds.

I've been trying not to watch the news, mostly because I don't want my kids seeing or hearing about the deaths and seeing bloody people on TV. I think they've been traumatised enough and they are aware enough of the aftermath from hearing adults talk about it. I kept it together at school until one parent told me the cathedral was flattened (which it wasn't, not completely) - just the image in my head of that iconic building gone was when it really rocked me. And then hearing, as parents came in, about the deaths and collapsed buildings and feeling so far away and at the same time part of it all, completely out of touch and out of control.

It is no exaggeration to say that yesterday was the most horrific thing I have seen and lived through. I can't even confidently say any more that we will never have to live through it again.
posted by tracicle at 2:26 PM on February 22, 2011 [37 favorites]


Aw hell. Very glad to hear you and the family are ok, tracicle.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 2:39 PM on February 22, 2011


*hugs tracicle tightly yet again*
posted by gomichild at 2:53 PM on February 22, 2011


Thank you for checking in, tracicle. Harrowing stuff -- so glad you and yours are OK.
posted by scody at 3:02 PM on February 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


What gomichild said. So terribly sorry traicle, but glad that you and your family are physically unscathed!
posted by madamjujujive at 3:02 PM on February 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Tracicle, so good to know you and your family are OK. What a vivid description.
posted by ambrosia at 3:21 PM on February 22, 2011


hugs tracicle. thank you for sharing that, it sounds like an incredibly harrowing experience. I'm so glad you & your family are ok.
posted by supermedusa at 3:34 PM on February 22, 2011


Glad to know you're okay tracicle. I'm really pleased you were there for your kids.
posted by roobot at 4:32 PM on February 22, 2011


Nthing that it's good to hear you are well, tracicle.
posted by mwhybark at 6:01 PM on February 22, 2011


Devastating collection of photographs from In Focus.
posted by lalex at 7:12 PM on February 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


The catastrophic pancake-style complete collapse of the seemingly modern Pyne-Gould Corp. building stands out as bad design, bad materials, bad building code, or all three.

tracicle, good to hear you are ok and best wishes for the immediate future for you and your family, and your community.
posted by Rumple at 8:07 PM on February 22, 2011


The catastrophic pancake-style complete collapse of the seemingly modern Pyne-Gould Corp. building stands out as bad design, bad materials, bad building code, or all three.

There's also straight up bad luck, between being at the wrong place, and being subject to smaller tremors that could have weakened the structure.
posted by ZeusHumms at 9:07 PM on February 22, 2011


Yeah but how do you design for the ground turning to mud?
posted by doublehappy at 9:21 PM on February 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


There was also a building demolished next door that apparently weakened it. One News is discussing a potential domino effect when (if) the hotel grand chancellor collapses.

Seriously I've lost a lot of respect for journalists. "there was a lot of frustration when they called off the ctv search. Why was that?" and a classic while a guy is on the phone tAlkin to his wife trapped in a building "is that your wife? Is she alive?"

On my phone sorry typos
posted by doublehappy at 9:36 PM on February 22, 2011


I should have framed that as a question rather than a statement re: the Pyne-Gould Corp. building. However, some other photos show a historic domed building still standing beside it, while none of the photos show the ground at that site "turned to mud." I suspect the collapse of the PGCorp is indeed going to be seen as anomalous and inexcusable, but of course time will tell.
posted by Rumple at 9:45 PM on February 22, 2011


We live in Christchurch, and we're on holiday up north - this is insane. Torn between trying to get back early to see what state the house is in, and staying away as long as possible due to service disruptions etc. Everyone we can get in touch with is okay, at least.
posted by xiw at 11:36 PM on February 22, 2011


Glad to hear you're OK tracicle.

The catastrophic pancake-style complete collapse of the seemingly modern Pyne-Gould Corp. building stands out as bad design, bad materials, bad building code, or all three.

Apparently it's an older building, 1960s or so. Probably not new enough to have been built to tough regs, and not old enough to have been required to have reinforcing work.

From a Wellington perspective I know that landlords here have screamed blue murder and done eveything they can to delay and frustrate council regs for strengthening old buildings, and we've got a far higher profile earthquake risk that Christchurch has had in the past, so I wouldn't be surprised if the same happens down there.

Possibly the "get back up and running and cut through the 'red tape'" attitude Brownlee brought to the September quakes meant that checking buildings for damage didn't get the attention it deserved.

And, hell, luck. Sometimes even when you do everything right it all goes to custard.

Seriously I've lost a lot of respect for journalists. "there was a lot of frustration when they called off the ctv search. Why was that?" and a classic while a guy is on the phone tAlkin to his wife trapped in a building "is that your wife? Is she alive?"

I'm waiting for someone to smack a reporter, and I'd cheer them on. The cameracritters have (generally) been doing a good job, but the talkers just can't seem to sit back, shut the fuck up, and let the pictures do the talking. It's obscene.
posted by rodgerd at 12:26 AM on February 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


it's a fairly good bet that everyone who is from NZ either knows someone who was killed in this quake, or knows someone who knows someone who was.

It only just occurred to me...we had a meeting with a kiwi builder (from the south island) at 11am Sydney time. I hadn't twigged until just now that because of the time difference, that would've been around 10 minutes after the quake, and more than enough time for him to have received an SMS or heard the news on the radio in the car. Thinking back, he did seem distracted. I really hope he wasn't enduring endless blah blah blah when all he wanted to do was check in on people back home.
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:12 AM on February 23, 2011


lalex: "Devastating collection of photographs from In Focus"

Saw that this morning; photo #34 is heartbreaking.
posted by bwg at 3:31 AM on February 23, 2011


Yeah, that was one that really shouldn't have been made public. I wish I'd noticed the caption before clicking "yeah, I'm OK with graphic content" because in disasters like this you expect it to just be an anonymous sneaker sticking out of the rubble or something, not a deeply sad & extremely personal moment like that which random strangers have no right or justifiable interest in gawking at.
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:55 AM on February 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


Indeed, UbuRoivas. I've been through that kind of situation; the last thing I'd have wanted was for it to be on the web.

On the other hand it does bring home the reality of the catastrophe in a way that photos of damage cannot, and it reminds me to be grateful to be among the living.

As for that poor fellow and the other folks who died:

.
posted by bwg at 4:25 AM on February 23, 2011


Rumple, From the NZ Herald:
Earthquake engineers are calling for tougher standards for strengthening old buildings after the catastrophic collapse of many pre-1970s buildings in the Christchurch earthquake.

The Pyne Gould building, Canterbury TV and other buildings where most lives were lost are all believed to have been built before a succession of increasingly tough earthquake-resistant standards began in the mid-1970s.

A 2004 change to the Building Act required all local councils to adopt policies to strengthen such buildings to at least one-third of the current building standard.

But engineers say that almost all councils, except Wellington, have adopted merely "passive" policies which do not require strengthening old buildings except when their owners seek new building consents for alterations.

And Auckland University Associate Professor Jason Ingham, a management committee member of the NZ Society for Earthquake Engineering, said the society advocated raising the requirement to two-thirds of the current standard.

"If you improve your building to only one-third of the building standard, it is still 20 times more likely than a modern building to fall down in an earthquake," he said. "At two-thirds, it's only something like three times as likely to fail."
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 10:41 AM on February 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, that was one that really shouldn't have been made public. I wish I'd noticed the caption before clicking "yeah, I'm OK with graphic content" because in disasters like this you expect it to just be an anonymous sneaker sticking out of the rubble or something, not a deeply sad & extremely personal moment like that which random strangers have no right or justifiable interest in gawking at.

I have some real issues with the coverage. In almost any other profession that involves at least occasional contact with vulnerable people, the concept most sought and valued is dignity. Nurses, doctors, firefighters, rescuers, police officers, everyone, receive training on how to best maintain people's dignity in bad situations. These people have lost their homes or their loved ones, or their livelihoods, or their lives. They are in a lot of pain and they're not thinking or feeling in a way that is necessarily easy for us to understand or sympathise with - how, as a family, do you cope with a rescue team's decision to forget about the body of your father because they are prioritising the living? For us watching, that's an easy decision, but we've had up close footage of people for whom that decision was at least their second devastating blow. Up close footage punctuated with inane questions, often laced with an angle so the media can report later that the families blame someone.

I recall some time ago the BBC released its archives of Afghanistan footage. The sheer volume of footage in that archive that never made it to the screen is some testament to their ability to edit and filter the news (for want of better words). That's their job. The news is for people that aren't involved, who don't have a day to sit watching television, but have a legitimate concern in the wellbeing and goings on in their world.

The news event is not the event. The role of a news organisation is to cut through the footage and the stories and tell us what we need to know, not to just feed through everything. Outsiders watching this event are exhaustingly speculating and arguing about what's really happening and what that survivor's comment means, and none of it adds value. Get us the footage that best shows what's going on. This is a big event, so an hour long feature broadcast wouldn't be inappropriate, but show us the pictures that tell the story. 48 hours of coverage = 24 hours of talking heads and 24 hours of footage. I'm already desensitised to collapsed buildings and crushed bodies. Autistic journalists and news editors, terrified that we'll be bored when "nothing is happening right now" (one of the worst journalistic phrases), find the nearest rescuee, someone who's spent a day under a building, with no idea if his family is okay or the city is even still standing, someone who wants nothing more than to burst into tears, and then ask him "Were you scared?".

It's insulting to the dignity of the living, it's insulting to the memories of the dead, and it's insulting to the intellect and sympathies of everybody watching.
posted by doublehappy at 11:23 AM on February 23, 2011 [12 favorites]


And we're implicit. I've watched hours and hours.
posted by doublehappy at 11:27 AM on February 23, 2011


joes_spleen, the real kicker is:
But he said a Building Amendment Bill now before Parliament would weaken controls even further by removing an existing requirement for consent authorities to physically inspect new buildings before issuing code compliance certificates - now to be called "consent completion certificates".
I guess councils ensuring earthquake compliance is the kind of "PC nonsense" and "bureaucracy gone mad" we need to central government to prevent.
posted by rodgerd at 11:30 AM on February 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


rodgerd: I saw that. Would removing that line essentially make poor construction privately actionable instead of a social issue? Which would mean that if you paid someone to build a house and you sold the house and it turned out to be leaky, the owner would have to sue you (for negligent misstatement perhaps?) and you would have to sue the contractor (for negligence misstatement and negligence)? The negligent misstatement being that "this house is complete to code". I guess they could skip you, but you would no doubt have to sign the thing as well.
posted by doublehappy at 11:38 AM on February 23, 2011


doublehappy: If a house is not compliant you can in theory already require the vendor to pay for repairs/correction. That protection already exists. This would allow uninspected rubber-stamping.

The problem in practise is that most of the shithouse construction in New Zealand (see: leaky buildings) is erected by single-use $200 holding corporations that promptly fold as soon as the "developer" has transferred the money to his or her own accounts.
posted by rodgerd at 11:44 AM on February 23, 2011


@georgedarroch: "Incredible image of Christchurch, from the hills, moments after the quake. http://i.imgur.com/0vZbD.jpg"

A couple tweets later he credits http://www.facebook.com/ej.mathers as the probable shutterbug.

Truly, an amazing picture.
posted by mwhybark at 4:45 PM on February 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Thanks, i_am_joe's_spleen. I didn't realize how old the PGC building was, it looked more 1990s to me. Superficially it seems like the pancaked Canterbury TV building (in which some reports suggest 100 people (!) may have died) was of a similar construction.

I work in a building which has just undergone two years of extremely disruptive seismic upgrade, which we roundly bitched about, despite being in a highly active tectonic zone. Seeing those pancaked buildings and thinking about the concrete slab ceiling and floor of my office is indeed sobering. I dunno if the changes will work - about 10% of my office is now a reinforced concrete pillar - I don't think anyone has ever explained it to us in terms of what relationship the reinforcements will bear compared to buildings built to new code. That would be the take home number, perhaps.
posted by Rumple at 6:05 PM on February 23, 2011


I watched CNN interview a woman this morning who had lost her husband and children in the Haiti quake, only to move back home to NZ and see the quake in Christchurch. They asked "How does it feel?"

How do you think it fucking feels? Ghoul much, CNN? I turned my TV off in disgust.
posted by arcticseal at 9:21 PM on February 23, 2011


Now 98 confirmed dead, 226 missing (though apparently some overlap in those groups).

Singaporean soldiers who were in Canterbury helping out with searching for missing; Aussies, British, American, Japanese, Taiwanese search and rescue crews also sent to Christchurch.
posted by Infinite Jest at 12:08 AM on February 24, 2011


How do you think it fucking feels? Ghoul much, CNN? I turned my TV off in disgust.

Not sure what you were expecting.
posted by smackfu at 6:52 AM on February 24, 2011


As someone who has watched days and days of footage from local disasters, I sympathize. Most recently it was Hurricane Ike, when I remember the highlight of their footage being about an hour long helicopter ride showing the first aerial footage of the devastation. And I do mean that was the highlight, because it was mostly un-narrated and didn't show any actual people.

TV reporters really need training on this sort of thing. I'm surprised they don't get punched more.
posted by threeturtles at 7:21 AM on February 24, 2011


I've been watching One News throughout and found it more informative than ghoulish. Then I caught some Australian ABC footage yesterday and there was a huge difference in the invasiveness of the reporters. Our 3 news seems to be constantly either asking dumb questions or sneaking behind the cordons to get unique footage.
posted by tracicle at 10:16 AM on February 24, 2011


Grim for rescuers as well as the victims. Awful choices to have to make.
posted by rodgerd at 11:23 AM on February 24, 2011


@UbuRoivas, and others, regarding the decision to publish the photo of the dying man and his wife.

I put up a graphic screen specifically because I knew it would be a tough view, I don't know a better way to do that sort of warning yet.

When I choose to publish graphic images, it is always because I believe they help convey a story that much deeper. I know that I reacted to that image right away when I first saw it - in a way very different from the other images, it brought the loss home to me, and I feel like it's my job to tell stories as best I can.

I never take these decisions (to publish graphic imagery) lightly, and yes, I have a wife and two small children and wonder how I would feel if it were us in such photos. I'd probably hate it, but at some level, I'd hope that I would understand it.
posted by kokogiak at 1:41 PM on February 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


In case anybody didn't know this, MetaFilter's own kokogiak is the editor of In Focus [previously], after having set up The Big Picture at Boston.com.

I dropped him a mefimail inviting a comment, as he may not have been aware that there was some discussion of that particular photo, leading into some talk about the media in general. That wasn't meant as any kind of challenge; I just thought it would be beneficial for people to understand the thinking from the editorial side of things.

Thanks very much for commenting, kokogiac - very much respected.

posted by UbuRoivas at 2:20 PM on February 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


kokogiak: that particular photo, and your treatment of it, has been the subject of a fair bit of discussion locally, online and offline.

I guess, when I see "warning graphic content", I am expecting gore, not an incredibly intrusive shot of a very intimate and sad event. It's good that you had a warning, but I think I speak for a lot people saying: this is a shot that shouldn't have been published at all, except perhaps much later with the permission of the people depicted.

As for the impact: we are haunted by that picture. That city is filled with our family and friends. Some sizable number of people who saw that picture, albeit a tiny minority of your audience, knew the people in it, maybe even learned about what happened through that picture first.

That's a big responsibility you've taken on.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 3:23 PM on February 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


On the other hand, we're so desensitised to gore that it almost takes something haunting like that to cut through & have such a strong effect. It's probably today's version of the reaction that gore might have provoked 20 years ago. It has certainly reminded me strongly not to go about making flippant jokes anywhere near topics like this.

I would agree with the permission aspect, although the photographer may have obtained that...? Hard to know.

On the subject of permission, there was another photo (possibly in In Focus or maybe it was one of the NZ papers) that had a father & two kids grieving the mother. The caption ran something like "16yo John Doe & his 18yo sister Jane after they'd been told there was no hope of finding their mother alive, with their father who chose not to be named".

Reading between the lines, I'd assume that "chose not to be named" is a journalistic euphemism for "said 'get the fuck out of here before I ram that camera up your arse!'"
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:35 PM on February 24, 2011


i_am_joe's_spleen, thanks for the feedback. To be honest, I always try to keep in mind that every person in every photograph is someone's son or daughter or wife or husband, and what that means. And I completely agree with you about the responsibility - once, when I posted an entry on Big Picture about the crackdown on the Red Shirt protesters in Bangkok, I made an error when editing captions and confused a journalist who had been killed with one that was only injured. As soon as I posted it, Twitter started lighting up with "Boston Globe reports photog has died!" and I saw my error. I scrambled to fix it and broadcast the error and the corrected info, feeling awful. I heard later that some of his family members had heard the news that I misreported (and hopefully the correction), which still haunts me. It was such a careless mistake, and could have caused so much more grief.
posted by kokogiak at 4:45 PM on February 24, 2011


On the subject of permission, there was another photo (possibly in In Focus or maybe it was one of the NZ papers) that had a father & two kids grieving the mother. The caption ran something like "16yo John Doe & his 18yo sister Jane after they'd been told there was no hope of finding their mother alive, with their father who chose not to be named".

Was that by any chance the photo that the Herald Sun (or maybe it was the Age, or both, I forget which) ran as their front page cover yesterday?

Because I work at a newsagent and encountered quite a lot of people that refused to buy the paper on principle, because they found the use of that photo very insensitive.
posted by lwb at 12:38 AM on February 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


I saw that on the cover of a paper yesterday, February 24 (NZT). Pretty dick move. I see a lot of NZ journalism going to shit because of this quake.
posted by hal_c_on at 1:41 AM on February 25, 2011


Oh, it's actually the final photo on In Focus, but I swear I saw it somewhere else first, in one of the NZ papers.
posted by UbuRoivas at 1:48 AM on February 25, 2011


I see a lot of NZ journalism going to shit because of this quake.

It's been going to shit since Paul Holmes proved you could make a lot of money by being a cockmonkey and turning news into a sideshow instead of, say, A K Grant holding a Prime Minister to account. It was Holmes who introduced "And how do you feel?" into the lexicon of New Zealand journalism, after all.
posted by rodgerd at 1:52 AM on February 25, 2011


Oh, it's actually the final photo on In Focus, but I swear I saw it somewhere else first, in one of the NZ papers.

Ah yes, that's the one. It was the cover photo of the Age.

Reading the In Focus caption... seems shitty to identify the kids given the father asked not to be identified. Especially as their mother was a minor public figure - not exactly hard to find out her husband's identity, I'd imagine.
posted by lwb at 2:41 AM on February 25, 2011


Er, ex-husband, my apologies. And yep, takes all of five seconds to find his name on teh googelz.
posted by lwb at 2:43 AM on February 25, 2011


I've even found One News to be too insensitive. I'm sure many of them don't mean to, but the end result really does bug me. They need to realise that people who have been through a traumatic experience are more vulnerable to going along with things they may not want to do.

kokogiak: I have to say, thanks for pushing web news media into the 21st century. For so long I've griped about sites having images so small that you can't get much meaning out of them. When I came across The Big Picture, I was still blown away by how much better a photo can be simply because it has a bit more detail. Hopefully the rest of the news sites will catch up some day.

I do question the hasty publishing of photos of dead or dying people who can be recognised. I personally don't have a problem with it. But there seems to be enough people who do to make it a serious issue. At least on the internet, where readers can come from many different countries and cultures. I also see how it can be a gray area, though. I'd be interested to know what policies companies usually have for this type of thing.
posted by Soupisgoodfood at 3:16 PM on February 25, 2011


I guess it's no different from showing someone's destroyed house or car (with number plate). I've given up on the television and gone for the National Radio coverage, which, though lacking in visual impact (though it's ok in conjunction with the web), seems far more sensitive.

*also: complicit, complicit, complicit. Need to practice that one
posted by doublehappy at 3:20 PM on February 25, 2011


For what its worth, the family of the person in the photo in question above contacted us (and other sites) directly, asking for the removal of the image, and we took it down, in line with their wishes.
posted by kokogiak at 7:37 PM on February 25, 2011


Just wanted to pop back into the thread to reiterate how devastating this is for Christchurch, and for anyone with ties to New Zealand. It's a small country, and surely most of the population has been impacted in some way.

I lived in Chch for only six months. Just from that short time, I know one person who worked in the collapsed Pyne Gould building, who happened to be out of town during the quake. Ten of his workmates are missing (presumed dead). About 100m from the destroyed Piko Wholefoods, my old house is apparently "gone". This injured and missing man worked at the bakery across from my shop.

The news coverage is horrifying but I can't stop looking. I do find it a bit offensive to see identifiable pictures of the dead and dying, but I can understand why the media chooses to publish them. When I see similar scenes in Asia, South America, wherever, those people seem totally anonymous. Outside of Western/English-speaking countries, the NZ quake pictures probably have a similar impact, that is, just another news story.
posted by exquisite_deluxe at 8:12 PM on February 25, 2011


At least on the internet, where readers can come from many different countries and cultures.

It's worth noting that it's extremely taboo for Australian aboriginals to view images or hear recordings of deceased people (of aboriginal origin).

If "hearing recordings of dead people" sounds odd to you, that's because the taboo extends to include any images or recordings taken while the people in question were still alive.

TV programs in these parts often start out with a warning "Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islanders are warned that this program may contain images or recordings of deceased people" in much the same way as food packaging might say "This product may contain traces of nuts"
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:13 PM on February 25, 2011


What's really bugging me right now (because things beyond the disaster itself are starting to bug me, five days later) is the misinformation being spread by the media: every rumour and report from a random passerby is turned into breaking news.

About an hour ago stuff.co.nz reported further casualties in Lyttelton after a rockfall. Half an hour later they announced it was false. Likewise the other day every news outlet was reporting a possible survivor in the Holy Cross Chapel -- false hope for everyone.

The media have a responsibility to inform, but to pass on unsubstatiated rumour as fact is beyond irresponsible as far as I'm concerned right now. We're on enough of a rollercoaster already, thanks.
posted by tracicle at 8:20 PM on February 25, 2011


Afterthought: if anybody is wondering how this could be a strong cultural taboo if cameras & sound recordings didn't come until after white men had invaded the country, my understanding is that once aboriginal people pass on, they are never mentioned by name or even mentioned at all, except maybe in very oblique ways:

"Hey, have you seen that fella who lived over there - think he was the cousin of so-and-so...?"

"Nah, not recently. Think he's gone walkabout or something. Might be back next week or next year, who knows?"

I don't know the exact reason for this, but I think it might be something to do with their spirit becoming confused & not wanting to move on, if anybody left behind is heard talking about them or grieving.

I'm not aware of the Maori having any similar custom, but they're from completely different cultural stock anyway, so it's very unlikely.
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:26 PM on February 25, 2011


Quite the opposite, if anything, Ubu. Goldie's paintings are generally considered a great taonga (treasure) amongst Maori because of the detail with which they capture ancestors.
posted by rodgerd at 11:44 PM on February 25, 2011


Ani Moller has some some pictures of people in NZ helping each other.
posted by janepanic at 5:51 AM on February 27, 2011


Just saw the InFocus pictures. This was awful.
posted by cashman at 11:46 AM on March 4, 2011


10,000 homes face demolition: Areas of New Zealand city to be abandoned altogether as quake damage leaves land unable to be rebuilt on
posted by homunculus at 1:17 AM on March 7, 2011


Christchurch quake mapped from space
posted by homunculus at 10:03 AM on March 7, 2011


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