Christchurch 6.3 – Major Quake New Zealand 2-21-11 Video

Fox is reporting a major 6.3 magnitude earthquake near Christchurch, New Zealand. Buildings are down and reports are that this was a very “hard” earthquake. The quake was centered 6-1/4 miles (10K) from Christchurch. I’ll update as the news breaks. Video added.

I know of two people who I believe are in Christchurch. One is blogger and friend Trevor Loudon at New Zeal Blog, and @newzealblog on Twitter. The other is Andy Moore @pooroldluser on Twitter. Both are reported okay, but conditions are very dangerous. We are still awaiting news of their families. The following are some of the tweets from Andy (there are no recent tweets from Trevor.)

Christchurch is very badly damaged. bodies in strerts. Gas leaks. CBD being evacuated now.

Trevor and I are OK. However many dead. City impassable. In CBD now.

Please keep Trevor and Andy in your prayers.

See updates after the photo.

Christchurch, New Zealand Earthquake 2-21-11

Christchurch was hit by a strong 7.1 mag. quake in September 2010 that left much damage and weakened the city structurally. Much of the damage from 9/10 is still unrepaired, and probably far worse today.

Update 2-24-11 5:50 pm CDT: The death toll has reach 113 in Christchurch.  NO ONE HAS BEEN RESCUED ALIVE FROM BUILDINGS SINCE WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON. Rescue efforts are still underway, with rain making it everything in Christchurch more difficult today. There are concerns for the safety of emergency crews as masonry becomes unstable in wet weather.

Aftershocks are continuing to rock the area.

The town of Redcliff had residents evacuated after a cliff was considered unstable.

Update 2-22-11 5 pm CDT: The death toll now stands at 75 dead, but that number is expected to rise. Fifty-five victims have been identified. Approximately 300 persons are missing. Rescuers are digging through rubble and are hearing some noises – some tapping, but acknowledge that the tapping may not be coming from close by.

The Christchurch airport has reopened.

Update 1-22-11 8:55 am CDT: Reports this morning say authorities are reporting 65 dead. This report is time-stamped 6:34 pm Christchurch time: Police warning people NOT to dig through rubble. Aftershocks are continuing, some greater than 4.0 magnitude. Four aftershocks exceeded 5 mag. People are still rapped inside buildings, and unconfirmed estimates are that as many as 200-400 may be trapped. Additional police officers are on their way to Christchurch.

The hospital is still operational. Nursing homes were being evacuated. At least 80% of the central city is without power. Tents are being erected in Hagley Park. From 3news:

Missing Persons

The Twitter account @safeinchch has also been set up for first hand news of those who are located safe and well.

Google has also set up a people finder for those missing in Christchurch

You can also leave a message for the missing here

Update 10:30 pm CDT: This report says Christchurch is built on silt, sand and gravel with a water table underneath. “In an earthquake, the water rises, mixing with sand.

Local TV showed bodies being pulled out of rubble strewn around the city centre, though it was unclear whether any of them were alive, but police reported multiple fatalities after the 6.3 magnitude quake struck during the busy lunchtime.

“I was in the square right outside the cathedral – the whole front has fallen down and there were people running from there – there were people inside as well,” said John Gurr, a camera technician who was in the centre of the city when the quake hit.

“A lady grabbed hold of me to stop falling over … It’s not nice at all. We just got blown apart. Colombo Street, the main street, is just a mess … There’s lots of water everywhere, pouring out of the ground – its liquefaction – its an absolute mess.”

Update 2-21-11 9:50 pm CDT: At this time, there are still no confirmations of fatalities, but this headline says there are ‘multiple deaths,’ hundreds injured. The central city is under evacuation orders. Source.

South Island hospitals are preparing for hundreds of injured patients.

Phone lines are down and electricity is out. Pipes have burst.

Fire Station Officer Peter McCardle said 30 people have been rescued. They do not expect it to come down but cranes and possibly a helicopter are likely to be needed.

Update 2-21-11  7:40 pm CDT: The Wall Street Journal is confirming that the original quake was 6.3 magnitude, which struck at 2351GMT, and an aftershock followed measuring 5.6 mg.

Sky News television footage from the scene of the earthquake showed the collapsed spire of Christchurch Cathedral, a major landmark in the city, cracked roads and a number of badly damaged buildings. Sky also reported the evacuation of the city’s airport and hospitals following the quakes.

Police said that multiple fatalities have been reported in several parts of the city including two buses being crushed by falling masonry.

“Other reports include multiple building collapses, fires in buildings in the central and persons reported trapped in buildings. All available police staff are assisting with evacuations and emergency responses,” said the police in a statement.

There is conversation that this earthquake is an aftershock of the 7.1 in September 2010.

Update  2-21-11 7:05 pm CDT: Some tweets coming from here (unconfirmed), says dozens of people are trapped, the Ferrymead bridge is impassable, the “whole structural integrity of the city has been shake down, mass liquidification, and historic buildings around Victoria Square are flattened, water mains ruptured, glass fronted buildings shattered.

Update 6:39 pm CST: The USGS is now reporting the magnitude to be 5.6, however their earlier report was 6.3This report says a 5.6 mag. aftershock shook the area 13 minutes after the mainshock.

From RadioNewZealand:

Radio New Zealand listeners report whole houses ruined and contents devastated.

Daniel O’Regan, who was in a building in central Christchurch, says part of the building separated, and the same thing happened to several other buildings he could see.

Mayor Bob Parker has told Radio New Zealand it felt like a whole new earthquake, not just an aftershock of the 4 September 7.1 quake. “It was very, very strong,” he says.

He says he has had unconfirmed reports of serious injuries…

Durham St church has collapsed

Radio New Zealand‘s reporter says staff at the Christchurch newsroom had to cling to their desks during the shaking. Large filing cabinets toppled.

People made their way out of the building but when they got out they couldn’t see for dust.

A church near the RNZ building in Durham St had collapsed.

Concrete in Victoria Square had lifted at least a metre in some places and there are signs of liquefaction around the Avon River.

The Ferrymead bridge is reported to be impassable because of rising water.

GNS Science says the quake, which struck at 12.51pm, was centred 10 kilometres south of the city at a depth of five kilometres.

The quake has been felt throughout Canterbury and as far south as Dunedin.

Mr Parker advises people not to drive, given the state of the roads.

RadioNewZealand says the Christchurch airport is closed. People are urged not to drive and the community has fled to the streets.

Take a look at the size of the boulder that fell in this video of today’s earthquake.

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Christchurch Earthquake 2-21-11 (video)

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Raw Video Christchurch Earthquake