This morning at 4.35am we were awoken by an earthquake - 7.2 on the Richter scale, so I hear - and you can see photos of some of the damage in Christchurch and surrounds here.
We all got up, found candles and torches and swept up some smashed glass, while the aftershocks continued, one of them itself was a rather large 5.7 on the Richter. Eventually we were worried to hear nothing from one flatmate, A., after text messages and calling through her wall, so went outside to knock on her door, only to wake her up. She'd slept through the entire thing!
So for us it was a few smashed glasses, a bit of mess in our rooms if stuff fell down, and the wooden fence around our property is buckled and snapped in a few places.
From information I received in text messages from friends, some of the damage has been much worse than ours, especially in the north-east part of town:
- my flatmate's brother's house fell down. After he got out. Thank God. A lot of other buildings have been partially or even fully destroyed.
- the city streets are full of rubble.
- the history building in which I study is closed, as the stairs have moved away from the wall. Windows have blown out in the university library.
- my friend's piano fell over, and her furniture moved around her room.
- in Darfield, the small town where some of my friends live which is closest to the epicentre, people were thrown from their beds. I haven't heard from my friends, but assume from the news that they are okay.
- bridges are broken, sewage stations damaged, roads ripped up, someone had to be pulled from a hole in the road when their car went in.
Thankfully the damage in human terms has not been large. There are a couple of serious injuries but no deaths, despite a large number of buildings falling down. We have been very, very lucky. Also the fact that it was in the early morning must have prevented a lot of damage.
The aftershocks are still going and are expected to continue for the next couple of days. It's an absolutely beautiful spring day but the world keeps wobbling. It's very strange.
Power came back on at about 9am for our part of town, but we are still supposed to be careful with water usage. The cellphone towers only have an hour or so left of battery power. The hilarious thing is that my flatmate R. only last night mocked me for being cautious, as I have been storing water in spare bottles since the start of the year. Hooray for irony and personal minor triumphs!
I just can't believe the damage that has been done. It doesn't seem real to see these familiar places just gutted. This earthquake has just been so destructive, though our house has escaped any major problems. I'm starting to realise how large the effects of this quake will be on the city. It's really sad to think of the central city; I don't know how it will possibly be how it should be again. It's sadder to think of the people whose homes have been ruined.