Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The earth moves, crushing worlds entire

The Big One came last September for the Canterbury region of New Zealand.

Above, a scientist discusses what happened on Canterbury Television's morning program,
Good Living. What host Megan Banks could not know -- and what geoscientist Pilir Vilamor couldn't predict -- was that it would happen again, with such devastating effect, in just a few months.

Tuesday's quake in Christchurch was "just" a 6.3 on the Richter scale, compared with the 7.1 in September, but it struck with blind ruthlessness. Hundreds may be dead, with nearly a hundred of that already confirmed.

And 15 of the 25 staffers at Canterbury Television --
CTV -- are missing somewhere in the rubble of their pancaked studios, Radio New Zealand reports:

Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker said it has been a "dreadful day" for rescue teams, and that about 75% of the city had now been covered by searchers on Thursday.

However, no survivor has been pulled from the wreckage of collapsed buildings, including the CTV and Pyne Gould buildings, since Wednesday afternoon.

Mr Parker says rumours of survivors being found alive in rubble on Thursday are not true. The search and rescue operation is happening in a "pressure cooker environment" and it easy for onlookers to get false hope, he says.

More search and rescue crews are due to arrive from overseas on Thursday night joining teams already working from Japan, Singapore, Taiwan and Australia. The operation will continue overnight on Thursday, he says.

Prime Minister John Key said on Thursday there are no survivors from the CTV building. Work had resumed there earlier on Thursday after there were concerns that the nearby Hotel Grand Chancellor might collapse.

Police estimate up to 120 people were in the devastated building which housed a language school, a regional television station and a nursing school.

The language school, Kings Education, said on Thursday it feared nine staff and 37 students students remained inside. A further 35 students are unaccounted for. The school has students enrolled from Japan, China, the Philippines, Thailand, Korea and Saudi Arabia.

AMONG THE MISSING -- now presumed dead by authorities, says the New Zealand Herald -- is Jo Giles, longtime CTV presenter, competitive pistol shooter, motor-sports enthusiast, onetime political candidate . . . and mum.
One of Ms Giles' daughters, Olivia Giles, said her family was pulling together to cope. "We're all supporting each other and still all hopeful. The main focus is just Mum."

Ms Giles' son James Gin said conflicting information yesterday about the chances of his mother surviving made it tough.

"We hear there were 15 people alive which was amazing, then within 10 minutes we find out that was false. To be honest I don't know what to think. Of course we hope we see our mum again."

ANOTHER WHO LIES somewhere beneath what once was CTV is Samuel Gibb -- journalist, devoted husband and "the last person that deserves this":
His wife, Cindy Gibb, struggled to accept the news that there was no hope left of her husband coming out of the collapsed CTV building alive.

"I don't know anything else. I just need my husband back," she told the Herald.

"I'm too young for this to happen. It's not supposed to happen like this. Sam's just the best person in the world."
THE EARTH SHOOK under Christchurch on Tuesday. Technically, experts say, it was just an aftershock from last fall.

To those who did not survive it, to families whose hearts and lives were ripped apart by it, to a television station laid waste because of it, to a city that lies in rubble after it . . . that was no mere aftershock.

In New Zealand this week, the earth shook, and whole worlds came crashing down. Nothing will be as it was.

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