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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Christchurch Earthquake Kills Many


As the severe toll from the Christchurch earthquake continues to rise, New Zealand's shattered southern city has been rattled by a series of aftershocks.

Buildings again shudder under the power of unpredictable underground forces and for a few seconds walls and windows shudder.

At first there is a crash like distant thunder before the earth shifts underfoot, and then within a few seconds all is still.

Some of the jolts have measured up to magnitude 4.5, far less threatening than Tuesday's quake, which witnesses say made the streets of Christchurch roll and rise like a wave.

But more than 100 aftershocks have made an anxious city even more scared.

Even the little tremors bring back the horror of the big one," said Roger Marshall, 32, who had brought his young family to a migration centre set up at the Burnside High School in Christchurch.
Roger Marshall and his family saw the house opposite fall down in ground.

Here the down-and-out have sought shelter as they swap terrible stories of the day Christchurch changed forever.

The house was entirely shaken and when we did get outside, the three-storey house across the road was just one storey and there's hands and limbs sticking out and saying 'help, help, help!'. It was out of this world," said Mr. Marshall.

We had cars falling into holes and the whole thing was upside down. It was the worst I have ever felt in my life.

The ripples of the calamity have spread far beyond New Zealand. Japanese, Chinese, Filipino and Thai students are among the missing; while there have been Australian and Irish victims. A British survivor is in hospice with severe injuries.

UK diplomats have set up an emergency centre at a hotel near Christchurch airport to issue emergency passports and help its citizens escape the quake zone.

Tony McLeod, the consular manager for the British High Commission, said he had been surprised by the scale of the destruction.

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