Oliver is…

He that hath a beard is more than a youth, and he that hath no beard is less than a man

…shaken but not stirred

I’ve been trying to think for ages of a way to make that saying work for my situation, but it really doesn’t.

At around 12.50pm today, an earthquake struck just outside Christchurch. So far there has been loads of damage (one website said 20% of the city’s buildings have been affected, including the tower of its iconic cathedral falling down), 65 people have been pronounced dead and more than 200 missing/trapped in buildings or rubble. I was 140km away and my sturdy looking hostel shook quite vigourously. I have no idea what it must have been like closer to the epicentre.

Christchurch cathedral, as I saw it this weekend:

Christchurch cathedral, as some news website had it today:

At around 9.30am today, I was waiting for a bus just next to Cathedral Square. Three hours isn’t much of a gap.

At around 6pm last night, I was eating in a restaurant across the road from the cathedral.

At around 12.50pm two days ago, I was milling around Cathedral Square.

So many possibilities.

I’m having quite a bit of good luck concerning natural disasters.

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Filed under: new zealand, , ,

6 Responses

  1. Jemma says:

    It’s the first thing I saw on TV this morning. I was just sitting there in shock thinking that for all I knew you could be dead or injured or trapped and how would I know?

    All the photos on the news sites are making me really sad, it’s so scary. I mean other people would be waking up this morning, just like me, watching the news and wondering if their friends were alright. Except for them, they might not be.

    It’s so sad! 😦

    • Oliver says:

      It’s absolutely mental here. I saw that square and the tower still standing three hours – three hours! – before it all went down. Seeing the pictures on the news is just bizarre.

      I felt the earthquake where I was and didn’t think much of it. The people around me said they felt them quite often and nothing even fell off the walls here, despite the walls shaking. That’s an odd experience. The owner guessed it was probably a five.

      I walked into town after that and missed another one. Apparently if you’re on the street you don’t notice them. I walked into a museum and the curator told me about all the things that were swinging about. He reckoned it would be about a six. At the time, these things meant nothing, but apparently anything over a six is bad. I walked around the disappointing museum and heard him have pretty much exactly the same chat with a couple that walked in.

      Then I went for a cup of tea and a cake. I got a text from a friend in the north island asking me to get in touch as soon as I could if I was okay. That made me think things must be quite bad in Christchurch. I replied straight away to say I was fine and asked him what the damage was. I overheard conversations from other tables and it started to sound quite bad.

      I had a friend staying in a hostel across the street from the cathedral. Him and his girlfriend were meant to be going on a trip north that morning, leaving quite early. I sent him a message to see if he’d felt the earthquake wherever he was.

      I then walked along the street and went into a shop. I thought it was strange that there was no one in there and that their donation box was on the ground spilling coins on to the carpet. It had been a couple of hours since the first earthquake. Then a few people came back into the shop, having run outside because of another tremor. The first was measured at 6.3, this aftershock came in at 5.7. Again, on the street I felt nothing. A couple walked in just after me and also said they’d felt nothing.

      The guy in the shop told me about the damage in Christchurch. The tower of the cathedral had fallen. Two buses had been crushed. For people living around here, it was obviously major especially after they’d had a 7.1 earthquake back in September. Although lower on the Richter scale, this one was closer to the surface so has caused more damage. I thought of my friend again, still no reply. His hostel still wasn’t completely repaired after the last quake. A bar we went into the other night – made of ice – proudly pointed out the cracks in the walls from an aftershock they’d had last week. I dread to think what state it’s in now. I called my friend and he didn’t answer. What if they’d just forgotten to set an alarm? What if they’d woken up and thought ‘It’s too early, let’s just get a bus tomorrow’? It’s a very scary thought. He did call back in a bit – they were on a whale watching tour so he didn’t have his phone on him.

      When I got back to the hostel people were watching the round-the-clock news coverage. It’s so strange seeing images of a city you’ve just left, completely destroyed. Normally with this sort of thing I think ‘That’s a shame’ but because it’s on the other side of the world I don’t think too much about it. One of the guys staying here has children in Christchurch who he was struggling to get in touch with, but eventually did and they were okay. Someone in Australia was worried about me because she’d heard a hostel in Christchurch had been destroyed and they were pulling bodies out.

      And why did I leave Christchurch? Because of my fascination of visiting towns with the same name as my friends.

  2. Dave w says:

    When I first got to Taiwan and someone told me they occasionally suffer earthquakes, I have to admit I was quite excited about the idea of feeling a mild shake – obviously nothing serious that would cost lives, just something to remind me that we live on a volatile rock (some bits more than others).

  3. Oliver says:

    Also, there were tremors throughout the night. Before I went to bed the owner said there’d been one about 9pm, which everyone except me felt. I woke up at a silly time (not sure why, but I’m going to blame the earthquake) and felt another tremor around 6/7am. It’s so strange!

  4. […] the flooding in Brisbane and Melbourne, the bushfires near Perth, the cyclone in Cairns and the Christchurch earthquake. var Scribol; if(typeof Scribol=='undefined'){Scribol={}; […]

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