Following a series of earthquakes in New Zealand on Tuesday 22nd February 2011, the Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker has declared a state of emergency and it is believed that around 65 people have died. The quake affected the centre of Christchurch CBD and was felt in the South Island. The diagram below shows the distribution of the tremours.
The New Zealand government has also asked Australia for help in providing search and rescue teams. 250 Australian Search and Rescue staff are enroute via air at the moment and travel with the thoughts and sympathies of the Australian Prime Minister, Julia Gillard.
As of 4am on 23rd February 2011 the Christchurch police said 22 people have been pulled from the PGG building on Cambridge Terrace and 8 people from the CTV building on the corner of Madras and Cashel Streets. Superintendent Russell Gibson said that a further 22 people are believed to be still trapped. There is communication with at least three of these people and it is understood they are not hurt.
Police are also aware of there being a number of deceased people in both buildings. It is thought a large number are still unaccounted for and work is ongoing to match up reports of missing people with specific locations and buildings. The focus of Police and Urban Search and Rescue at this stage is the rescue of those still trapped, rather than the recovery of the dead.
Supt Gibson said:
“It is difficult to speculate on the total death toll as it is such a rapidly evolving situation. We know it will be significant and we know there are a lot of people going through the nightmare ordeal of waiting for news of their loved ones. All of the agencies involved in this operation are working as hard as possible to bring some clarity to the situation and some answers families and friends.”
People are advised to watch out for aftershocks, if one occurs drop, cover and hold on.
- Christchurch airport is still closed.
- Christchurch hospital is open.
- Littleton Tunnel, State Highway 74 and Anzac Avenue Bridge is closed.
People are requested not to overload phone lines and only make calls where necessary. Relatives abroad should text to check on family.
Government help line
Call the Ministry of Social Development’s Government help line 0800 779 997 for information about all government services and support.
Red Cross Person Enquiry Line now activated
The New Zealand Red Cross Person Enquiry Line is now activated. People in New Zealand concerned about the wellbeing of friends and relatives in Christchurch should call 0800 REDCROSS (0800 733 276).
If you are unable to contact a friend or relative in the Christchurch area, call the Red Cross Person Enquiry Line. Red Cross will be able to tell you if they have registered with Civil Defence. People are encouraged to do this before reporting friends and relatives missing.
People enquiring from outside New Zealand should call +64 7 850 2199.