Large 7.8 Ecuador Earthquake


From the passenger seat: five years ago today [UPDATED]

Can you remember how you found out?

I was on a job when the customer got a phone call to say that there had been “another big quake” in Christchurch.  I remember not flinching much at the time as we had “survived” one already. The news of aftershocks had been an almost daily occurrence for months and you end up quite desensitised.

Customers weren’t so calm.  Their adult daughter worked in central Christchurch – smack bang in the middle of what would eventually be called “The Red Zone”.

And, of course, the phone network was completely overloaded.

The television went on and we sat aghast looking at the aftermath, while trying to contact various people.  Over time, we got enough messages through and back to know that at least our friends and family were OK.

It was a strange mixture of emotions.  Me, calm, because all the people I knew in Christchurch were fine.  Customers were on edge.  30 minutes had passed and still we hadn’t been able to get word about her daughter.  We watched TV coverage of the central Christchurch CBD with collapsed buildings just a few streets away from where she worked in a multi-story building.

I recall the deep disgust I felt for some reporters on TV who were unable to hide their visceral delight at being able to report on such a big story.  The occasion called for gravitas, but in their lives, especially those who were patched live over the world to the BBC and CNN, they were unable to suppress their excitement and naked joy.

Not long after we managed to contact someone who had heard of the daughter post-quake, and knew she was alright.  Traffic was gridlocked and comms were out.  It would be a few hours still before they could actually talk to each other for the first time.  Read more »

Hey Andy? Still want to rebuild the school?

Sunday’s earthquake has further weakened the cliff face behind a Christchurch school that’s tagged for closure, the Government says.

Education Minister Hekia Parata announced in November that she’d made an interim decision to close Redcliffs School in Christchurch because the cliff was unstable.

Building and Housing Minister Nick Smith says Sunday’s 5.7-magnitude quake caused major rockfalls in areas where the geology is identical to Redcliffs.

“The school site has had five major rockfalls since 2010, ranging from 100 tonnes to nearly 50,000 tonnes,” he said.

“I have been further advised that the cliff face behind the school suffered additional damage on Sunday with new cracks on the upper third of the rock face, and a number of individual boulders dislodged from the face.”

The Labour Party has opposed closing the school. Read more »

Taiwan in pictures


Wally Santana / AP

Read more »


No, no no! No taxpayer funds to rebuild the privately owned Christchurch cathedral

The bludgers are out in force this Christmas, this time advocating for government money to fix up a shitty cathedral of no architectural merit.

An advocate for the restoration of the Christchurch cathedral says he will personally put $1 million toward the project.

An independent report has found the quake-damaged cathedral could be restored at a cost of $105 million.

Former cabinet minister and Great Christchurch Buildings Trust co-chair Philip Burdon said the money will come from a mix of insurance payouts with the residual $60m from private fund-raising.

He himself had committed $1 million and he’s confident others will contribute, he said.

Mr Burdon said the trust would also accept any government funding.

Read more »

Face of the day

Today’s face of the day is a doctor from New Zealand who bravely ignored her own serious injury caused by the Nepal earthquake in order to help save the lives of others. Previously she had worked in the A&E during the Christchurch earthquake.

Her name is Dr Rachel Tullet.


Dr Rachel Tullet helped keep 25 injured people alive until they could be evacuated. PHOTO-NZ Herald

Survivors of the avalanche at Everest Base Camp have described how a New Zealand-based doctor helped save the lives of 25 critically injured people, despite being wounded herself. She later stitched up her own leg without anaesthetic.

When the avalanche triggered by the 7.9-magnitude Nepalese earthquake struck, Dr Rachel Tullet, 34, an emergency and wilderness medical specialist living in Christchurch, was swept on to a rock and buried under ice crystals for several minutes.

She said: “I realised I’d injured my leg, but I was just amazed that I’d survived it. And in the scale of what happened to other people, it just didn’t even register.”

She immediately sprang into action and led an operation that helped keep 25 seriously injured people – 19 Nepalese and 6 foreign climbers – alive until they were evacuated by helicopter nearly 24 hours later. Two later died in Kathmandu.

Read more »

Gee, this is timely

Gee, this is timely as we countdown to the 5th anniversary and 1000s of examples on how useless the Christchurch City Council is.

Wonder if the announcement is coinciding with when big pay rises for pretty inept councillors are announced.

The rebuild is winding down so perfect timing…typical of a council coming too late to the party and a few dollars short.

City councillors have unanimously approved plans to set up a one-stop shop for investors and developers keen to be part of the rebuild.

Development Christchurch will be set up under Christchurch City Holdings Ltd (CCHL), the council’s commercial arm, and provide advice to the council on unsolicited development proposals and look after some of the major capital projects the council has on its books. It will also help progress the council’s suburban master plans.   Read more »

Ground opening up during an earthquake

Earthquake Taliban: when emotion gets in the way of good policy

One of the troubles with the Christchurch earthquake is the emotion and political overreaction it caused regarding strengthening of old buildings and churches that no one uses. Spending eye watering amounts might makes sense in Wellington but it’s nuts that engineers want to spend billions on filling Auckland buildings with steel and kicking out parishioners.

The NBR reports:

Wellington risk consultancy Tailrisk Economics is warning against the country’s estimated $10 billion earthquake-strengthening policy, saying it could have “detrimental effects” on the economy and communities.

The consultant’s just released report Earthquake strengthening policy formulation in New Zealand 2003-2013: A study in failure claims there are serious flaws in the way earthquake-prone buildings are designated.

The report’s author, Ian Harrison, says New Zealand’s attempt at an earthquake-strengthening policy will cost more than $10 billion but produce benefits of less than $100 million.

“No other country applies across the board national earthquake strengthening standards because it is economically illogical to do so,” the report’s author Ian Harrison says.  Read more »

Earthquake live on TV; Christchurch residents won’t believe the panic