Earthquake, Christchurch #eqnz Day 1

3:44 am Wednesday 23 February
NOTE: (in reply to searches received at this website) Dunedin has experienced or is experiencing light aftershocks only. At this time, there is no news of earthquake damage in Dunedin.


Christchurch CBD has been devastated by a 6.3 magnitude earthquake/aftershock at 12.51 pm today, just 5km deep, 10km south-east of the city (epicentre in Lyttelton). Liquefaction is extensive.

UPDATED via 3news
Prime Minister John Key confirms 65 fatalities, more are expected. Unconfirmed, from reliable sources, 3news at 9.50pm, indicates the death toll could range from 200-400.

The Christchurch 111 call centre has been successfully diverted to Wellington and 111 calls are being prioritised.


Updated phone numbers, civil defence information, accommodation, people finder & transport information

Check and follow @NZcivildefence for #CHCH #EQNZ updates


Note: You don’t have to be subscribed to Twitter to follow tweets, just google an address eg “@NZcivildefence” to read the tweets.

UPDATE: TV3 and 3news will be back on air at 6am Wednesday morning (tomorrow). TV3 is providing live feed. Twitter is live and instantaneous. TVNZ’s building in Christchurch has been damaged, causing difficulty for live feed.


Christchurch CBD has been devastated by a 6.3 magnitude earthquake/aftershock at 12.51 pm today, just 5km deep, 10km south-east of the city (epicentre in Lyttelton). Liquefaction is extensive.
Lyttelton and Brighton are UNLIVEABLE.
UPDATE: LYTTELTON TUNNEL is Re-opened For Emergency Vehicles.

Aftershocks continue, at a rate of about one an hour. The largest at magnitude 5.7; the most recent of magnitude 4.4 at Wednesday 23 Feb 0:02 am. Tremors have been felt as far away as the lower South Island and Wellington in the North Island.

Follow latest quakes via Twitter @geonet

Emergency services are effecting people rescues. Multiple deaths reported (total number unknown).
UPDATE (10.41pm): 125 people citywide have been successfully rescued from building rubble.


Civil Defence Headquarters set up at Christchurch Art Gallery.

CHRISTCHURCH HOSPITAL initially evacuated – the hospital is now OPERATIONAL. Power has been restored by Orion Energy.

Latimer Square, Central Christchurch
Spotlight Mall, Sydenham
Sanitarium Building, Papanui
Canterbury University
Moorhouse Avenue Medical Centre
Princess Margaret Hospital
Sumner Medical Centre
(via @ECan): Locations of triage centres can be found at #eqnz

All South Island hospitals providing space for the injured, with the exception of Southland Hospital.

CHRISTCHURCH AIRPORT is closed to all but emergency traffic. @newstalkzb: Domestic flights out of Christchurch Airport are expected to be back up and running by 8am tomorrow #eqnz

CIVIL DEFENCE requests that people do NOT drive to Christchurch unless they have been officially asked to do so.

Are you waiting to hear from friends or family after the Christchurch earthquake?
Police have set up a hotline for welfare inquiries at 0800 779 997.
The National Crisis Centre is now ACTIVATED for people contact/matching.

People in New Zealand concerned about the wellbeing of friends and relatives in Christchurch can call 0800 REDCROSS (0800 733 276)

Alternatively: you can leave a message for missing people on Stuff, go to Messages for the missing:

Google has developed this people finder for the Christchurch earthquake. #chch #eqnz

UPDATED (via TVNZ news)
Bob Parker says welfare centres are creaking at the seams, he is directing people to Burnside School and asking people to shelter neighbours #eqnz
Addington Raceway closed due to high numbers
Please go to Burnside School in Memorial Avenue, Papanui High School, Lyttelton Recreation Centre, Brooklands Community Centre, Akaroa Senior School if you need shelter.

2500 people are congregating at Hagley Park as a temporary Red Cross shelter – the big tent for next week’s Ellerslie Flower Show is being utilised. Demand has outstripped supply – the Hagley Park shelter has only 1500 hot meals to distribute. Extra blankets are being brought in.

Christchurch people can find people offering accommodation

All Christchurch people should collect water in buckets and BOIL WATER BEFORE DRINKING. Do not take showers or flush toilets.
Check your neighbours. Sanitarium has made fresh water from its water bore available for free #eqnz

POLICE are urging people to stay home, people should not attempt to go to work or school for three days.

Civil Defence is deploying Portaloos; gaining access is problematic for this deployment.

People should not use CELL PHONES except in an emergency. Emergency Services require all lines. Use Txt or Tweets only, if you can.

Christchurch has run out of ambulances. Injured people are being removed by police vehicles and cars. Defence forces have been called in to assist.

Gas, water and sewerage lines ruptured everywhere. Threat of fires immediate. Choppers with monsoon buckets being utilised to contain fires.

There are currently 250 specialist Search and Rescue teams deployed. There are 100 engineers from Singapore already at work in the city.

New Zealand has ACCEPTED offers of International Search and rescue assistance from Australia (40 person search and rescue team) and the United States.
New Zealand is presently in talks with Japan, the country with specialist expertise in earthquake recovery. Offers of help received from the UN, the EU, Israel and other nations.

180 police officers are deployed in Christchurch, with a further 200 police reinforcements to arrive from around New Zealand.
Rescue helicopters and medical staff arriving from Dunedin and other centres.
There are 350 military personnel on the ground now, with 250 relief personnel due overnight.
4 Navy ships are available.

Damage at Sumner reported.
Damage at Riccarton.
Eastern suburbs damaged, power won’t be restored tonight.

Current estimate ONLY – 80% of Christchurch is without power; it’s hoped 50% of that will be restored by nightfall. Power has been restored to rural Canterbury and Christchurch Hospital. A large area of Banks Peninsula has power restored.

Building damage or collapse reported:

Bodies removed from Christchurch’s YHA Hostel building.

24 people trapped on the 17th floor of Christchurch’s Forsyth Barr building, following collapse of the stairwell, are being rescued by emergency services

Pyne Gould Guiness building completely collapsed, structure pancaked, 200 people thought to have been inside when the earthquake struck; rescue underway for at least 30 people still trapped, one confirmed death

CTV building destroyed, building on fire, as many as 31 students at a Japanese language school may be trapped; bodies have been removed to a makeshift mortuary on Latimer Square; 20 people have walked out of the CTV building – unconfirmed but potentially 100 still inside #christchurch #eqnz

Provincial Chambers

Christchurch Cathedral – people were thought to be in the tower when the building section fell

Arts Centre
Offices of Perpetual Trust in the Marsh Brothers (Insurance Brokers) building
The Press building – 2 people remain trapped, rescuers on site
Cashel Mall – collapse of masonry, several casualties reported
Whitcoulls building (unoccupied at time of collapse)
Ballantynes – windows broken, building relatively unscathed
Christ’s College
Timeball Station at Lyttelton, destroyed
The Hop is about the only building to survive in Poplar St.


The earthquake caused 30 million tons of ice to collapse into Tasman Glacier’s terminal lake. The ice fall created waves of up to 3.5 metres in height. The waves lasted 30 mins and were big enough to roll icebergs into the lake.


New Zealand insurance companies wish to reassure New Zealanders that the companies are able to cover all resulting claims.

@TelecomNZ Want to help? #eqnz

Air NZ lays on $50 flights to Christchurch; extra 747 service

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr


Filed under Stadiums

12 responses to “Earthquake, Christchurch #eqnz Day 1

  1. Margaret

    I heard about the earthquake. Was looking to find out what damage to Lyttelton.

    We visited Christchurch and Lyttelton last year during a cruise.
    Pictures that I have seen are devastating.

    • Elizabeth

      Hi Margaret – thanks for getting in touch.
      Lyttelton itself has sustained quite a lot of damage, but reports are slim due to the focus on Christchurch CBD where people rescue is the most intense, and the most necessary. Media reports later tonight and tomorrow will give us all a better picture. I still haven’t heard from aunts, uncles or cousins in Christchurch – or many friends. Most aren’t on Twitter which seems to be absolutely the best way to keep communication up, as well as txts.

  2. Russell Garbutt

    This has been an apalling event for Christchurch and all of us everywhere have been affected by those that have lost loved ones, their homes, their livelihoods. The destructive power of an earthquake is enormous.

    I was however apalled to hear TV One News at 6pm last night say something like “this was the big one that everyone was predicting”. People may have been predicting a major aftershock to the September 4th event, but this is certainly not the big one which is overdue on the Alpine Fault. Recognising the risks and effects of that movement may at least bring some perspective to what will have to be contemplated for the future of Christchurch in the days and months ahead. It is sobering to hear those with expertise in seismology tell us that often earthquakes along neighbouring faults can result in linked events.

    In the meantime we can all only help where we can and feel for those that have lost so much.

  3. Calvin Oaten

    I have just returned from a week in ChCh, including yesterday. Elizabeth, you would not believe the devastation.

    {Moderated, in the interests of sensitivity and good taste. We repeat: nothing that has happened in Christchurch is news to structural engineers expert in the fields of earthquake proneness and geotechnical assessment. We repeat: councils have a responsibility to ensure property owners bring existing buildings up to code compliance, to meet the requirement of the New Zealand Building Act. This will involve due diligence and prioritisation including, of course, attention to ground conditions by geotechnical assessment. -Eds}

  4. Russell Garbutt

    I think that the issue of what type of building survives relies on a lot of questions including the type of soil that is under the building. Liquefaction will cause some buildings of a modern type to remain relatively sound but they will be uninhabitable because they will just fall over or tilt. Violent shaking of the type in the recent 6.3 has high acceleration and not too many structures will withstand those levels of acceleration. Hard to make too many comparisons with Chch because many of our buildings are built on rock so what could happen with an old building here would not be what happened when the same style of building is on what is essentially ooze that has temporarily solidified as in Canterbury. It is interesting to google liquefaction and see what is said about the wisdom of building on land that is subject to it.

    • Elizabeth

      Calvin Oaten. People come first. You have been banned from this site for seven days. Please refrain from posting while we concentrate on relaying quake information that may help affected people.

      This website is attracting large numbers – we are attempting to keep information as current and as accurate as we can through links to television channels, websites and Twitter. The information at this website is partial and subject to change.

      The Editors / Site Authors

      • Elizabeth

        Stunning post of building damage by @PolarBearFarm – note, his office building had been strengthened using a steel exoskeleton. Wonder what Dunedin-based structural engineer Lou Robinson would think of that. Link

        • Elizabeth

          ### ODT Online Wed, 23 Feb 2011
          Editorial: The Christchurch Earthquake
          It was the event everyone hoped would never happen, coming after the first disastrous earthquake last September . . . Whether severe aftershock or separate earthquake is irrelevant at this stage: the event in the middle of the day yesterday has devastated central Christchurch and parts of its surrounding area, including the town of Lyttelton, has caused loss of life and injured many.

          Everyone in New Zealand, and every New Zealander overseas, will be distressed by yesterday’s events, the tragic loss of life, and the extent of injury. There is much that we can individually and practically do over the next days, weeks and months to support the people of Canterbury.

          Read more

  5. Kiwifly

    so what did Calvin Oaten do was he just being his usual idiot insensitive self??

  6. jaynice

    I do have 1 more question, could the earthquake epicentre happen in the southern region by Dunedin? and if so how would this shock affect Christchurch region?

  7. Russell Garbutt

    While some TV reporting of the tragedy has been very good, I think the following interchange must be recorded as being the most idiotic heard so far.

    Woman Reporter – “Have you spoken to your wife?”
    Man – “Yes.”
    Woman Reporter – “Was she alive?”
    Man – slight pause, “Yes.”

  8. Kiwifly

    lol @Russell

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