The Tragic Earthquakes of 2010 & 2011

Christchurch Earthquakes

Photo Credit: 6.3 Magnitude Earthquake Rocks Christchurch by Gillian Needham

Two significant events occurred in Christchurch and its surroundings, changing the city's face forever.

On 4th September 2010, a 7.1 magnitude earthquake, centred in Greendale (near Darfield), was felt widely in Christchurch City and caused considerable damage. The central city was closed for several weeks whilst damage was assessed. Fortunately, there were no deaths.

People breathed a sigh of relief and felt that it was over. Tragically, Mother Nature was not finished, and on Tuesday 22nd February 2011, at 12.51 pm, a severe 6.3 magnitude earthquake hit the city, travelling from the Port Hills area and devastating both Lyttelton and Christchurch city, causing 185 deaths and injuring several thousand people. It was a shocking, horrific event that impacted the city and its residents widely. The aftermath is still resonating today.

The quake struck at lunchtime, just as people were returning to work, so many who were on the footpaths were killed by falling masonry. A bus full of commuters was crushed in the street. Only one person survived.

Two multi-level buildings were responsible for a large number of lives lost. Both buildings, the CTV building on Madras Street and the PGC building on Cambridge Terrace, pancaked to the ground,  trapping people and crushing many others. The most significant loss of life was in the CTV building, where 115 people died, and a further 18 were killed in the Pyne Gould Corporation building on Cambridge Terrace. A further 36 people died in the central business district. The devastation, especially the Victorian and Edwardian buildings Christchurch was famous for, was a dreadful result of the quake’s intensity, being at a shallow depth and the upward thrust, which was too much for them to survive. The parapets and mainly brick walls on the old buildings, many in bad repair, fell, causing widespread damage – crushing cars and buses and killing people both inside and on the streets.