7.5 quake "rocks whole country" of New Zealand
November 13, 2016 11:18 AM   Subscribe

A magnitude 7.5 earthquake centered near the inland South Island town of Hanmer Springs, New Zealand has been felt (literally) throughout both major islands of the nation. A tsunami warning was downgraded late this morning. Major damage has been seen in the Christchurch and Wellington areas (photos), and deaths have been reported in Kaikokura. Massive aftershocks continue to shake the country. A massive incoming storm threatens to hamper relief efforts. Live updates here.
posted by rednikki (30 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Only two reported fatalities so far. I'm having a shaky morning here in Wellington. Didn't get much sleep.

Having seen some photos of my work place from a colleague who was over keen and went in to work this morning (he is heading home now), my biggest take away so far is if you live in an eq zone, standing desks are a TERRIBLE idea.
posted by jzed at 11:39 AM on November 13, 2016 [6 favorites]

Kiwi Check-In Meta
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 11:49 AM on November 13, 2016 [3 favorites]

They're saying it's likely to be only two fatalities and tsunami warnings are being downgraded. Plenty of people were temporarily evacuated to higher ground but are mostly back home now, I think.

Seeing pictures of lots of broken glass and fallen shelves in Wellington, and the ports are closed. People stuck on the inter-island ferry and unable to reach port in Wellington or Picton but should be able to get in eventually. But no rail traffic across Cook Straight for at least a week (Wgtn Harbour Master, live on Radio NZ now). Engineers checking the ports. Wellington buses running, trains not. Being told not to go into work at the moment.
posted by Pink Frost at 11:51 AM on November 13, 2016 [1 favorite]

Some nasty damage to state highway 1 in South Island. pics
posted by jzed at 11:54 AM on November 13, 2016 [1 favorite]

Parliament foyer being used as a refuge for those in unsafe accommodation nearby. (For context, if you walk past the stairway to the right, you are at the lifts that go to the Prime Minister's office. You wouldn't be able to get into the lift without an ID card, of course).
posted by Pink Frost at 11:54 AM on November 13, 2016

I hope the USS Sampson renders any assistance our peaceful neighbor New Zealand might need when it makes a port call in Auckland for the International Naval Review.
posted by Rob Rockets at 12:04 PM on November 13, 2016

In Chch this was a quite different kind of quake to the big ones - it was bouncy and rolly and went on and on and on. No damage for us, it looks like Wellington got beaten up significantly more. Managed to get to sleep afterwards too.

Was pretty annoyed at people on irc saying 'the quake was inland, there won't be a tsunami!'
posted by xiw at 12:42 PM on November 13, 2016 [1 favorite]

It's been weird to see the aftermath of the quake unfold from the other side of the world. Family living around Marlborough are all safe and well, no injuries and no obvious damage to homes. A couple of friends and their two preschool-aged children live in Waiau, close to the epicentre, and were able to let us know briefly that the township has no power, no water, no landlines and that their house is severely damaged. Kaikoura is still a mostly unknown entity because it's been cut off by landslides, and emergency medical crews are on their way now via helicopter.
posted by tracicle at 1:29 PM on November 13, 2016 [3 favorites]

Be safe.
posted by oheso at 1:46 PM on November 13, 2016

I got a text from my folks in Christchurch giving me a heads up about the quake and that they were OK. It's our standard operating procedure since I moved to Australia before the Feb 2011 quake. Saves me getting any nasty shocks when reading the news websites.

My aunt thinks they'll have another claim for EQC for their house in Halswell. But they need to claim after most of the big quakes.

My friends in Christchurch and Wellington are safe. Hopefully my dad's boat is safe on its mooring in Havelock.

I'm glad that for such a big quake most people are safe.
posted by poxandplague at 1:47 PM on November 13, 2016 [1 favorite]

Some nasty damage to state highway 1 in South Island. pics

One of those pics is apparently from Malaysia...source here (from 2015)
posted by Pink Frost at 2:19 PM on November 13, 2016 [2 favorites]

Heartened to hear that most folks are safe. Amazingly good news. Are the building codes there requiring quake resistant structures?
posted by mightshould at 2:57 PM on November 13, 2016

Yes, we have reasonably stringent codes for modern buildings and are progressively forcing owners of old ones either to strengthen or demolish.

It was a freaky long quake -- in fact I'm hearing that it might be better analysed as 2 or 3 with different epicentres very close together in time. It felt like a couple of minutes. That's the worst thing, thinking "surely this must end soon" and actually it doesn't, and then wondering if it will get worse. But in Christchurch where I am it was a rolling quake, not a jolting one, and doesn't seem to have done much damage beyond freaking everyone out and causing a tsunami evacuation along the beach suburbs.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 3:07 PM on November 13, 2016 [3 favorites]

I have an old internet friend in Dunedin. I wasn't a very good friend so I'm not sure if he wants to hear from me but my thoughts are with him and everyone there. <3
posted by Room 641-A at 3:21 PM on November 13, 2016

As i_am_joe's_spleen says, very long quake, it just went on and on.

Interesting to see how widespread the aftershocks were. In the hours afterwards there were quakes across large parts of the country. Subsequently things seem to have settled into an aftershock sequence around Cheviot, Kaikoura and Seddon.
posted by HiroProtagonist at 3:46 PM on November 13, 2016

For non New Zealanders, our govt buildings are seismically very strong, and so they are a logical place of refuge in central Wellington, and we have a flexible and realistic attitude to security when push comes to shove. Here's a bunch of people in Parliament's foyer having breakfast after going there overnight.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 3:55 PM on November 13, 2016 [3 favorites]

Some pretty serious rockfall along State Highway 1 and the railway line. That looks like weeks if not months of work to clear and fix. Hope no one's under there.

Again, for foreigners, this is the single highway and line that goes down the east coast of NZ's South Island. It's an important transport corridor.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 5:13 PM on November 13, 2016

A 7.5 quake with only two deaths - that's what strong building regulation does for you.

After the Christchurch earthquakes in 2011, Wellington had a good number of buildings pulled down for being too far below the required strength. That comes at a huge financial cost and there's still plenty of empty lots around (and a host in Chch), but when the next big one happens, then we're grateful for a government that can make the hard decisions.

(Admittedly, it was located in the back of beyond, but still.)
posted by happyinmotion at 5:40 PM on November 13, 2016 [3 favorites]

In the far south we felt nothing (thank goodness)- the Catlins seems to be isolated from many quakes (still tsunami precautions tho'). There were no reports on Geonet for this whole area. As we're such a narrow country with lots of services crammed into valleys and other tight spots infrastructure effects will be huge - we're also experiencing an ongoing trend for government to concentrate services, infrastructure hubs, call centres etc while what we need is redundancy.
posted by unearthed at 6:59 PM on November 13, 2016

Seems like the aftershocks are still coming pretty frequently. And it's amazing how you get used to them (in the sense of "oh that's a little one, I'm not going to bother moving to a safer place") but that once you get too used to them things seem like they're swaying even when they're not.
posted by Metro Gnome at 8:15 PM on November 13, 2016

That's the worst thing, thinking "surely this must end soon" and actually it doesn't, and then wondering if it will get worse.

Here in the US, we sympathize....
posted by The otter lady at 10:00 PM on November 13, 2016 [2 favorites]

My cousin in Blenheim is having a shit month. Her son just killed himself, daughter also attempted, and now this. Damage to the house, no injuries, but still, dude!

My mum's house in chch has minor damage, which would be fine, except she only JUST finished repainting after the last damage was repaired. That's three sets of repairs since the big one now.
posted by lollusc at 11:06 PM on November 13, 2016

12 hours out of sync here but no new casualties: a train is stopped along the coast where all the landslides are, driver is safe and was to be helivac'ed. One freight truck was trapped on the coastal highway between slips and the driver wasn't able to contact anyone until around 3pm (quakes were at midnight; lucky the tsunami didn't go too high!). Reporters and medical teams are now in Kaikoura and reporting that the locals and tourists are safe but have no water supply or sewerage system, no power or phone. They are gathered around the local marae and hospital and sharing bottled water and portaloos.

Hanmer Springs will be accessible by road from 7am Tuesday local time (there was a slip near the bridge leading into the town). Waiau, closest to the epicentre, is badly damaged. My friends there have shared photos of their house and it is "red-stickered" in Christchurch parlance, i.e. it is definitely going to have to be demolished. They have moved in with family in Culverdon.

Still some friends waiting to hear from family members in Cheviot and Kaikoura, but the communications system is still iffy and they may have other urgent priorities.

Dear fellow kiwis, stay safe and I hope you get a good, calm night's sleep tonight. Love.
posted by tracicle at 1:25 AM on November 14, 2016 [3 favorites]

I was still up listening to the news on RNZ, felt a brief moment of light-headedness (as if a million tonnes of earth suddenly opened up and swallowed the country) and the newsreader Vicki McKay mentioned "we're having a bit of an earthquake here at the moment and I'm not sure be able to stay on air for much longer", but with typical kiwi stoicism stayed on air as the reports started coming in.

I'm an island away from the epicentre but my family are close to it and they were woken.

We are learning to live on shaky isles.
posted by arzakh at 3:17 AM on November 14, 2016 [1 favorite]

I'm feeling the distance from home today but I've Skyped with my parents which has helped a lot. They actually traveled down from Havelock to Christchurch last night so I'm glad they were home hours before the quake.

Stuff has been doing an amazing job of keeping everyone up to date. I tried tuning in to National Radio to hear the calming, reassuring voice from home but it didn't want to load for me.
posted by poxandplague at 4:29 AM on November 14, 2016

Stranded cows.
posted by ZeusHumms at 9:48 AM on November 14, 2016

The cows are okay.

A friend of mine travelled to Christchurch for a fencing competition on the very day of the earthquake. She was one of the thousands who had to evacuate to higher ground because of the tsunami warning.
posted by h00py at 4:41 PM on November 14, 2016 [1 favorite]

My office (in the Wellington CBD) is apparently closed for the next two weeks. I'm going to be on a very fun call in a few hours where I explain why I didn't set up any tech to work from home. Even though I was told to.
posted by Pink Frost at 11:24 AM on November 15, 2016

Good luck with that call. There are many people in Wellington who are going to have hard conversations about business continuity and their operational readiness this week.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 2:48 PM on November 15, 2016

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