Christchurch Earthquake Day 5 Feb 2011

26 February, 2011 Earthquake Update

Another after-shock, or earthquake, this morning at 6.58 A.M. Magnitude 4.1

Christchurch Death Toll Rises: This morning, the death toll stood at 113. No more people had been added to the list of the dead overnight.

Update at 1 P.M.: Alas, as we all feared: The death toll is now at 123 people. 200 people are still missing, and fears are held for these people.

It is possible, as the USA rescue team spokesman said yesterday, that some people might still be alive: He has been at rescue missions in Haiti, Chile, and other places, where people have survived, awaiting rescue, for up to 10 days or so. The Mayor, Bob Parker, also holds out some hope that some people will make it out alive. But, as the days go by, the chance of finding people alive diminishes, and as the bodies of these poor people are brought out of the CTV building, any hope for finding people alive in here seems very remote.

This morning, only six of the bodies recovered had been identified, but this number has now grown. It is difficult to identify people, as many people come from overseas. It is important that people get identified correctly before it is announced that they have died. Interpol are apparently helping with this process.

It is thought that 27 Japanese students have perished in the earthquake, at the CTV building when it collapsed. The Japanese consul-general Hachiro Ishida says that ‘the families are still hoping against hope for a miracle, that their loved one is not among the dead”. (NZ Herald, A7, 26 Feb 2011)

Also in this building are thought to be Chinese students, and Filipino nurses. There are 20 missing people from China, and it is not known how many of these students were in the CTV building. At least eight nurses from the Phillipines are thought to have died in the CTV building.

One of these nurses, 25 year old Rhea Mae Sumalpong, sent a text home to her mother in Australia, just minutes after the big quake, to tell her that she was trapped in the building, that it was “difficult to breath” because of smoke, and could her mother please rescue her somehow. This nurse’s mother has come over to Christchurch in the hope that she might find her daughter. It is thought that Rhea has died in the quake. Her Mum has come over in the hope of finding her alive.

Families and support people for many other Internationals have arrived in Christchurch to try and find their people.

Our love and condolences go out to all those people who have suffered death of a loved one. Many people overseas who have family and friends studying or working here will be deeply concerned about their loved ones who have not been found yet.

Try to be patient: It is difficult to identify the dead. Many people have been crushed badly, and cannot be identified from a photo. Only 6 people so far have been correctly identified. The authorities ARE WORKING HARD on the problem: 30 police personnel alone who are specially trained have been delegated to working with families of the bereaved. Interpol has been called in to help with identification of the dead.

Press Conference This Morning, 26 February, 2011

Thankyou to T.V. One for keeping us up-to-date on the developments at Christchurch. Thanks to all those diligent, compassionate and courageous people who are out there attending to the physical aspect of rescue, and thanks to all these people behind the scenes who help keep the rescue and recovery mission intact by communicating at conferences such as these. Thankyou for keeping the rest of us informed.

Representatives were at this meeting from all the major services provided in Christchurch at this time: Police, Firemen, Medical, Army, Government, and Council: all had their best people at this conference this morning, which was televised live. Go to TVNZ Channel One if you want to see this.

The mayor Bob Parker addressed the people of Christchurch, telling them that although the scale of what had to be done to repair the catastrophe was phenomenal, “our dedication to this task has not moved one iota”.

Update Day on Welfare Centres:

Remember the Helpline is the freephone number 0800779997.

Welfare Centre at Cowles Stadium has closed due to sanitation problems and hygiene concerns. This is being moved to another location. However, the Australian Medical Team have set up their field tent in this area, so I believe.

Welfare Centres are open at Burnside High, Rangiora Baptist Church, and the Pioneer Stadium.

Tuahere Marae: This marae, which is about 20 kilometres or so north of Christchurch, has very kindly opened up its doors to the needy.

Food and Water: There is plenty of food coming into Christchurch. Don’t go overboard with stockpiling too much. Plenty of water, too, now that more than 50% of the mains water lines are functioning, and the army has its de-salination process organized. Fonterra has been bringing water into Christchurch over the past few days, when water was so urgently needed.

Be sensible: We have just been told there is no need to stockpile food, that there is plenty to go around, since supplies are coming into Christchurch daily. It is a good idea though, in my opinion, to have a few plastic bottles of clean drinking water around, and more than a few cans of food, just in case.

We have had a good year or more of watching disaster ads on television which tell us that we need to have drinking water saved, and some food, and other provisions, in case of a disaster. “Are You Prepared?” the ad goes……… Well, the disaster has struck, but that does not mean that suddenly we should cease our self-preservation strategies: Food and water should STILL be kept. There might still be MORE earthquakes, and all the services to householders, which have just been restored, could again collapse.

Medical Help: The Aussies have set up their field medical tent. Free medical attention is provided here. It is important to go and get anything checked out: If you have a tummy bug from drinking impure water or from living without much water these past few days, then you really should get medical attention, rather than let a serious infection take hold. If you have wounds, go and get those seen to as well. All medical help, including visits to your GP or other centres, are free until the end of the weekend. Prescription fees are also waived until the end of the weekend. As the Mayor, and Medical people have advised, You need to look after yourself.

The message about water is that it should still be boiled. Take care with personal hygiene – wash your hands before eating or preparing food. Do everything you can within your means to prevent infection of any kind.

Otago University Student Army: This great team of workers, the student volunteer army, were highlighted on television, Channel One, this morning. Their spokesman Nic Twaddle gave us the run-down on television today: They have a system of packing up lunches for the workers in the city, and the needy. They are doing a fantastic job. Their lunch-packages are being prepared on a huge scale, and they expect to deliver something like ten thousand lunches to people today. Numbers in the student army were given as 10,000 over the weekend, but news on the morning of 28 Feb has given the number of the student volunteer army as 22,000 people.

Otago University Volunteer Army have also been actively helping in the hard physical effort of helping to repair the effects of liquefaction. A large team of Christchurch students were shown digging over opened cracks in the earth, the result of the 22 Feb earthquake. It has been said on television that students from other universities have also joined in this effort.

Police Reinforcements: 324 Australian police were sworn in yesterday. The team includes detectives and forensic specialists as well as front line police who will work in a buddy system with our police here. There are now 1200 Police personnel working in Christchurch. The increased numbers will help to deal with the problem of looting and obstructive behaviour: The increased Police and Army personnel will help to protect people from those elements which are counter-productive in achieving a common purpose with positive outcomes.

NZ Army: I talked about this in the previous post, but really the efforts of the army MUST be mentioned in this article also. The army have been cooking food up in their mess to help feed needy Cantabrians since the earthquake struck.

Yesterday, an army spokesman told us about the de-salination units which had just arrived. These de-salination plants will mean that fresh drinking water can be supplied on a daily basis for as long as is needed. This is welcome news for the people of Christchurch. The plants convert salt water into drinking water. 65,000 homes in Christchurch to date are still without running tap water, so the army’s de-salinated water will surely fill a need here.

State of Iconic Buildings: Earthquake Engineer Jason Ingham, from Auckland University, said that an assessment of the buildings in the CBD means that a third of the buildings there will have to be destroyed, if they have not been already.

However, it is possible that the Christchurch Cathedral might be rebuilt. This is the most iconic of all Christchurch’s architecture, and both the Mayor, and the Dean of the Cathedral are keen to repair the building when the time comes.

Recovery of the Dead Respected: TheDean and the Mayor have both expressed that the first major concerns are, of course, the safety of the rescue people, and then, the recovery of the dead people within the Cathedral. At this stage, it is unsafe to get those people out, as anyone who goes in there right now runs the risk of being hit, and possibly killed, by falling bricks and mortar. But the recovery of the dead will be attended to just as soon as a safe way is paved to work in this environment, when things can be strengthened and the necessary equipment, such as cranes and pulleys, etc, can be provided.

The Dean said that many other churches in Christchurch had been damaged by the 22 Feb quake. The Blessed Sacrament, he said, was especially hard hit.

Travelling: Remember that it is best to keep off the main roads as much as possible to allow the essential service vehicles to get through.

Don’t Store Petrol: Petrol stations are open, and there is plenty to go around, so there is no need to stockpile petrol or gas or diesel. It could be very dangerous having stockpiles of these things if there is ANOTHER earthquake.


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