21 February 2011

Huge Quake Brings Down Christchurch Cathedral

Posted by Dan Satterfield

I took the photo on the right a year ago on New Years Day 2010. Christchurch New Zealand is one of the most beautiful cities you will ever see. Without doubt that building was the most famous in all of NZ.

It’s now mostly destroyed.

The quake struck just after 12:51PM Tuesday, in Christchurch, a magnitude 6.3 quake struck the city. It was centered just 5 km below the city centre and caused heavy damage. Late word is that there are many fatalities. At a depth of just 5km, this is an extremely shallow quake. Along with the location under the city, this likely explains the heavy damage.

Those who travel to the NSF Antarctic bases are very familiar with Christchurch. All flights onto the ice are staged from there, and the city has had a long history of connections to Antarctica. The news will come as a shock to the researchers, and support personnel, who recently passed through the city.

It’s lush green landscape is a welcome sight for many after months in the white landscape of McMurdo and the South Pole station. Late word is the the control tower at the airport has also collapsed.

An interview on local radio, with a man who was swimming at the time of the quake, gives an idea of what it was like. He was tossed out of the pool.

A big hug to all the wonderful Kiwis I met, on the way to Antarctica, and know that many millions are thinking of you.

One last note: I just had an email from a friend at the South Pole station, and they are all thinking of you as well and very eager for information.