Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Force of nature

Although I'm so far removed from New Zealand, I feel moved enough to write something about the scale of destruction from this morning's earthquake in Christchurch. It happened at about 12.30pm, New Zealand local time. This is about old heritage buildings toppling over; old buildings that had withstood earlier earthquakes but not this one.

The earthquake was quite powerful, measuring 6.3 on the Richter scale, and it showed the amount of damage through natural disasters. We can have the best defences and the best technology but we can never be sure that they are enough.

Of course, this is an old city and it was built some 160 years ago. The buildings then were not as strong as the present and were always susceptible to greater damage.

Yet, nobody expected to see the spire of the iconic 130-year-old Christchurch Cathedral shearing off and crumbling down as rubble on the grounds below. That it did is a great tragedy for worldwide heritage.

This is another heritage church building that was destroyed during yesterday's quake: the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament.

While this Roman Catholic church itself is about 150 years old, the building was completed 96 years ago. Though more modern and more solid than the Christchurch Cathedral, it still couldn't withstand the force of the earthquake. From what I can see from the picture, half of the building is gone. The remaining part of the building was also filled with cracks.

There's also a report that some 30 million tons of ice broke off from the Tasman glacier about 200 kilometres from Christchurch. A 1.2km long, 300m high, 75m wide piece of ice on the face of the Glacier in Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park claved and plummeted into the Tasman Lake, creating waves of up to 3.5 metres high which swept up and down the lake for 30 minutes.

No comments: