Ten years later, New Zealand mourns Christchurch mega-earthquake dead


The people of Christchurch remember a decade of trauma, ten years after the Canterbury earthquake changed lives as they knew it.

Monday is the anniversary of the deadly earthquake, which will see Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern pay homage during a solemn memorial service in remembrance of the dead.

The tragedy began when the earth moved at 12:51 p.m., which had been an otherwise unremarkable Tuesday.

With a shallow epicenter just 10 kilometers from Christchurch, the magnitude 6.2 earthquake was devastating. He killed 185 people, most of whom were crushed in the Canterbury Television building in the heart of the city.

Thousands more were injured, hundreds seriously, the psychological scars were deep.

The total cost in dollars will never be known; one estimate suggests damages in the order of 40 billion New Zealand dollars (37 billion Australian dollars).

Everyone in Christchurch on this day has a story and many are heartbreaking.

Annie, from the eastern suburbs of Richmond, says she was thrown across the room from her workplace before huddling under a chair for safety.

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“I turned my head and looking up at the ceiling… (he) parted. I’m looking for all the threads and the pink mats. It went on for a very, very long time, ”she says.

“We ran downstairs and went outside and right before our eyes the whole park erupted in mud puddles. It was liquefaction to come.

New Zealanders are used to earthquakes – children learn safety drills in schools – but engineers estimated this level of damage to be an event over 2,500 years.

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Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will lead the memorial service on Monday. Photo: Getty

Instinctively, the Kiwis knew what they had just experienced. Still, the scale threw people into disbelief.

“I was dizzy. People were stunned, ”continued Annie, recalling her journey into town on foot to find her school-aged daughter.

“It got really terrifying because everyone was going out and I was the only person in.

“A man said, ‘You can’t come in because the buildings have collapsed and people are dead.’ I just burst into tears.

“I just walked. It was as if you had lost your focus on something other than what you were trying to do.

Finding her daughter among school groups scrapped in Hagley Park, Annie is shown in an exhibition at the Canterbury Museum.

A line of wreaths in the Christchurch Memorial is a testament to the lingering pain and trauma of those deadly minutes and their aftershocks. Photo: Women NZ Biz

The filmmakers interviewed Cantabrians everyday in the weeks following the earthquake, creating the film 12:51.

In recent months, they have created a second film re-interviewing these residents.

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Annie’s suburb was hit so hard by the quake that she was forced to move.
“After (Richmond) got the red zone, I accepted the government’s offer,” she said.

“There have been so many losses that it shapes you. It’s been a journey… reviving something like this isn’t an end date, is it?

Many more shared their stories in local media this week.
Brian Shaw, according to Newshub, is still battling his insurance company for damage to his damaged apartment ten years later – because he is also struggling with terminal cancer.

Becky Gale had a baby 10 days after the earthquake that killed her partner Adam Fisher, one of 18 people who died in the Pyne Gould Guinness building.

With victims coming from 20 countries, not counting Australia, the impact has been truly global.

Christchurch remains in a state of disrepair and recovery, plagued by a population decline that took six years to recover.



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