New Zealand Earthquake Case Study

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  • Created by: Fiona
  • Created on: 15-05-13 17:20

Location and Hazard

The earthquake happened on 22nd February 2011

The epicentre was 6 miles south-east of Christchurch

It occurred at a destructive plate boundary, where the Pacific and Indo-Australian plates are converging

The earthquake measured 6.3 on the Richer scale and had a 5km deep focus

The most severe shaking lasted for 12 seconds

There was a significant vertical movement that buildings were unable to survive

6 aftershocks occured on the same day

The situation was made worse by already weakened buildings from the September 2010 earthquake

Soil liqufaction occured in eastern suburbs

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Physical Impacts

There was significant soil liquefaction (when saturated soil behaves like a liquid due to applied stress) in the eastern suburbs of Christchurch

This produced 400,000 tonnes of silt which caused significant land slips and rockfalls

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Social Impacts

The earthquake meant 80% of water and sewerage systems were severly damaged and were left without the power needed to operate

1,200 people sustained minor injuries

There were 200 major trauma cases

Some bodies were unable to be identified

There was worry and upset because of missing relatives

According to a report published in March 2013, many survivors (especially women) turned to comfort food and began to eat unhealthily

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Demographic Impacts

181 people were killed, making it the second deadliest natural disaster in New Zealand's history

Out of these deaths, over half were people who were in the six-storey Canturbury TV building, which collapsed

Not everybody who died was from New Zealand - the CTV building was also home to an English language school so some casualties were from, for example, Japan, China and the Philippines

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Economic Impacts

The cost of the earthquake was NZ$20 - 30 billion (approximately US$20 billion)

45% of buildings in Christchurch had restricted access

The Hotel Grand Chancellor, the tallest hotel in Christchurch, had to be demolished - it was reported to be on the verge of collapse after the earthquake

There was a significant cost from the use of the emergency services to search for and rescue people

The buildings that had been built in the last 30 years following stringent earthquake codes performed well

10,000 houses collapsed in the suburbs due to the soil liquefaction (as a result of this, they were unable to rebuild on the land)

Total cost of rebuilding was thought to be $40 billion

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The Government implemented a full emergency management structure in 2 hours of the quake and the National Crisis Management Centre in Wellington co-ordinated the activity, based locally in the Christchurch Art Galley (a modern, earthquake proof building)

Emergency services played a vital role, for example police organised the evacuations, the fire service co-ordinated search and rescue and an urban search and resuce team arrived from Australia

In terms of medical support, St. John's Ambulance co-ordinated the emergency response, local health boards cancelled all non-emergency appointments and surgery at hospitals and the New Zealand Red Cross and Salvation Army set up welfare centres

Businesses worked to recover lost infrastructure and this meant 70% of households had mains water reestablished within a week

Sports events were organised to raise funds for the victims - for example the "Fill the Basin" cricket match raised more than $500,000

The Red Cross helped the over 65's pay their fuel bills and helped displaced children travel to school

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More Responses

There was a long term plan drawn up to help rebuild Christchurch, with a compact CBD featuring low-rise buildings (less likely to collapse in the event of an earthquake), as well as areas of parkland and upgrades to the library and hospitals

However there were issues because funds are limited and a subsequent earthquake in December 2011 hampered progress

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