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Christchurch New Zealand Earthquakes

Updated on August 20, 2016

Satellite image showing Christchurch and surrounding areas

Photo Credit -
Photo Credit -

In Memory of those who lost their lives in the Christchurch Earthquake

In Memory of 185 victims, who lose their lives on the 22 February 2011, at the Christchurch Earthquake - You shall always be remembered.

Civic Memorial Service, marking the 1st anniversary of 2011 Christchurch Earthquake was held at Latimer Square on 22 February 2012 at North Hagley Park in Christchurch NZ.

So familiar have tremors in Christchurch that locals are good at estimating the magnitude of the earthquakes. They have had plenty of practice.

Since the 7.1 quake in September 2010 - the first and biggest, which caused no fatalities - geologists have measured more than 10,000 earthquakes in the region.

The anniversary was weighing heavy on people's minds, with any adrenalin from the early recovery period having long drained away.

This day will stand as a historical disaster in New Zealand.

Canterbury Television building where so many lost their lives

Ruins of the Canterbury Television building, 24 February 2011. Photo Credit -
Ruins of the Canterbury Television building, 24 February 2011. Photo Credit -

I remember that day clearly, I was in New Plymouth hospital waiting for an operation on my broken leg.

I laid in the hospital bed watching TV as the special news, 1 pm on the 22 February 2011, of Christchurch earthquake, deaths and scenes of horror, with what was unfolding in front of my eyes, with my heart aching for all those people, even now nearly 5 years later, tears are coming to my eyes with the memories.

The February 2011 Christchurch earthquake was a powerful natural event that severely damaged New Zealand's second-largest city, killing 185 people in what has been described as one of the nation's worst peacetime disasters.

The magnitude 6.3 (ML) earthquake that struck the Canterbury region in New Zealand's South Island at 12:51 pm on Tuesday, 22 February 2011 local time.

The earthquake was centered 2 kilometers (1.2 mi) west of the town of Lyttelton, and 10 kilometers (6 mi) south-east of the centre of Christchurch, New Zealand's second-most populous city.

It followed nearly six months after the magnitude 7.1 Canterbury earthquake of 4 September 2010, which caused significant damage to Christchurch and the central Canterbury region, but no direct fatalities.

The earthquake caused widespread damage across Christchurch, especially in the central city and eastern suburbs, with damage exacerbated by buildings and infrastructure already being weakened by the 4 September 2010 earthquake and its aftershocks. Significant liquefaction affected the eastern suburbs, producing around 400,000 tonnes of silt.

The earthquake was reported to be felt across the South Island and the lower and central North Island.

In total, 185 people were killed in the earthquake, making the earthquake the second-deadliest natural disaster recorded in New Zealand (after the 1931 Hawke's Bay earthquake), and fourth-deadliest disaster of any kind recorded in New Zealand, with nationals from more than 20 countries among the victims.

Over half of the deaths occurred in the six-storey Canterbury Television (CTV) Building, which collapsed and caught fire in the quake.

The government declared a state of national emergency, which stayed in force until 30 April 2011.

It has been estimated that the total cost of rebuilding to insurers to be around NZ$20-30 billion, making it by far New Zealand's costliest natural disaster, and the third costliest earthquake (nominally) worldwide.

The earthquake has been the most damaging in a year-long earthquake swarm affecting the Christchurch area.

It has been followed by a large aftershock on 13 June (which caused considerable additional damage) and a series of large shocks on 23 December 2011.


New Zealand has had its fair share of earthquakes, and with the increasing coverage of earthquakes worldwide, it is something that we cannot toss on the back burner, we must be aware, take action if caught in an earthquake.

Learn all you can, about earthquakes and how to cope for survivable, learn what to do if one happens near you.

Do's & Don'ts in an event of an earthquake

Japanese search and rescue team in Christchurch

Photo Credit -
Photo Credit -

The above photo of the Japanese search and rescue team approaching the ruins of the CTV building on the 24 February 2011, which were great in helping to rescue many victims of the Christchurch earthquakes.

The six-storey Canterbury Television (CTV) building collapsed leaving only its lift shaft standing, which caught fire.

The building housed the TV station, a medical clinic and an English language school.

The school—King's Education—catered to students from Japan, China, the Philippines, Thailand, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, and Korea.

94 bodies were recovered from the CTV Building.

On 23 February police decided that the damage was not survivable, and rescue efforts at the building were suspended.

Initially more than 100 people were believed have died in the building, the total reached 115.

Fire-fighting and recovery operations resumed that night, later joined by a Japanese search and rescue squad.

Thirteen Japanese students from the Toyama College of Foreign Languages are missing, with some feared trapped in the rubble.

Of the 166 confirmed dead by 12 March 2011, 94 were recovered from the CTV building

© 2012 Elsie Hagley

Did you have personal experience with family members in this New Zealand disaster?

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    • Elsie Hagley profile image

      Elsie Hagley 2 years ago from New Zealand

      Bronwyn Joy Ellio: Earthquakes aren't nice, I have been through many in my lifetime, even felt the Christchurch quake here in Taranaki, which is in the North Island in NZ.

      Your friend was very lucky, your keepsake is a very special thing, maybe it will bring you luck.

      Blessing to you.

    • profile image

      Bronwyn Joy Ellio 2 years ago

      We had a big quake - by Australian standards - here in the Latrobe Valley a couple of years ago. It was nothing compared to the Christchurch quake, of course. In my owl collection, I have one particular piece that is very special to me. It was a 40th birthday gift from a fellow writer. She bought it whilst in ChCh - on the morning of the quake. The shop was destroyed. Fortunately my friend - and the shop staff - survived.

    • Elsie Hagley profile image

      Elsie Hagley 5 years ago from New Zealand

      @TransplantedSoul: Yes it was some earthquake, they are still having earthquakes, only not so violent.

      Thanks for commenting.

    • TransplantedSoul profile image

      TransplantedSoul 5 years ago

      We had a 5.2 magnitude quake here (or about 100 miles form here) a few years ago and you can really feel the power.The quakes you talk about are about 100 times as strong. Wow!

    • TonyPayne profile image

      Tony Payne 5 years ago from Southampton, UK

      My cousin was in Christchurch a few weeks ago, but didn't feel any tremors. She said it seemed a sad strange place, and I am sure it must be weird being there, knowing what took place just a short year ago.

    • Cari Kay 11 profile image

      Kay 6 years ago

      No matter how many quakes you've been in, you just never get used to them. I learned a lot about this quake. thank you!

    • profile image

      Stinkerbelle 6 years ago

      Had a close friend who flew out to be a part of the ERT. Great lens

    • LouisaDembul profile image

      LouisaDembul 6 years ago

      Imagine that a year has already passed since the New Zealand earthquake. Didn't know anybody who was affected, but followed it in the media. what a tragedy.

    • MelonyVaughan profile image

      MelonyVaughan 6 years ago

      This was so sad! Such a beautiful and quiet city!

    • lilymom24 profile image

      lilymom24 6 years ago

      Very tragic disaster and nice write up about it. Congrats on your purple star.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      I shed many tear because of this disaster in New Zealand.

      Congratulations on the Purple Star, well deserved lens! :)

    • julescorriere profile image

      Jules Corriere 6 years ago from Jonesborough TN

      What a chilling story. Thank you for sharing it. Perhaps this lens will help move people to do something to help. Blessed.

    • accfuller profile image

      accfuller 6 years ago

      Such a terrible disaster. A co-worker of mine was from NZ, and she did know some people affected by the quake. Nice job with your lens.

    • jolou profile image

      jolou 6 years ago

      I can't believe it's been a year already. I remember hearing when this happened. I don't personally know anyone in New Zealand but am sorry for what they have been going through. I live in an earthquake area myself and have experienced a few, but nothing major.

    • WriterJanis2 profile image

      WriterJanis2 6 years ago

      Thank goodness I didn't. My heart goes out for all of the victims here.