Christchurch disaster a day on
The death toll stands at 75, dozens yet to be rescued from beneath building rubble, and hundreds of people still missing are still the desperate scene 24 hours after an earthquake struck the Christchurch area of New Zealand. The massive rescue effort that now involves 300 rescuers boosted by urban experts from Australia has rescued 20 people so far and Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker said a pocket of 15 had been found in the TV3 building, the heart of local television production.
Jim Linton - VK3PC
Meantime under normal arrangements, the members of Amateur Radio Emergency Communication (AREC) were busy. A small team of amateur radio operators are keeping the lines of communication open in earthquake-hit areas of Christchurch. AREC team member Richard Smart ZL4FZ said 10 radio amateurs are using their two emergency broadcast vans to keep rescue teams and Civil Defence staff in touch. He said one is at a major welfare centre providing portable communication so they can talk to Civil Defence and the other vehicle is en-route to assist search and rescue teams in an area where communication is poor. Richard ZK4FZ said amateur radio operators from around the country are volunteering to help out and others are sending updates on the disaster to families of people in Christchurch who are overseas.
Former NZART Vice President Stuart Watchman ZL2TW was attending a medical conference and lucky to escape. He told how his hotel swayed and crumbled, managed to free himself and others only to find devastation outdoors and the adjoining building leaning threatening to collapse.
New Zealand Prime Minister John Key said a State of Emergency continued and those in the affected areas needed to keep their resolve and good spirits as the whole country was right behind them. He acknowledged the support already given and being offered from overseas.
The earthquake disaster bill of last September (7.1 at a depth of more than 30 metres) was put at $8 billion but the latest quake (6.3 and at a depth of just five kilometres) could be double that amount. Christchurch and its surrounding areas account for 500,000 people, about half the population of the South Island of New Zealand.
- Jim Linton VK3PC, Chairman IARU Region 3 Disaster Communications Committee.
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