It’s been an extremely tough few months in the antipodes with the Queensland floods in Australia in January and then Cyclone Yasi in February, and now the Christchurch Earthquake earlier this week. At wandermelon, our thoughts and prayers are with the victims, survivors, and all the good people of Queensland and Christchurch who are suffering so much at this time.
On Tuesday, February 22 at 12.51pm, Christchurch city in the Canterbury region of New Zealand suffered a severe 6.3 magnitude aftershock (following the 7.1 magnitude earthquake which rocked the city on September 4 last year). Initially, there were 70 people pulled from the rubble but since Wednesday afternoon, no one has been found alive and the death toll is expected to rise well above the latest official figure of 113, with 228 people still missing. A total of 164 people have been taken to hospital with injuries including broken bones, and head, neck and spinal trauma. Over 600 rescuers, including teams from Australia, Britain, the US, Japan, Singapore and Taiwan, are using sniffer dogs, cameras, microphones and listening devices, but hope is fading as the rescue search goes into its fourth day, making it more likely to be a recovery operation, followed by weeks, months, and years of grief for many of the survivors as they try to recover and rebuild their lives.
The disaster is predicted to cost the insurance industry over $8 billion and while the scale of the recovery effort is not known yet, it is thought that those costs could rise as high as $16 billion. While the rescue effort continues, several funds have been set up to help victims. Sadly, there are reports of scammers in New Zealand using the tragedy to take advantage of generous people. If you would like to contribute, you may safely make donations through the Red Cross. The Red Cross has also set up a dedicated telephone number for those people concerned about the whereabouts of friends and family missing following the earthquake. The number to call is 0800 RED CROSS (0800 733 276). People enquiring from outside New Zealand should call +64 7 850 2199. Alternatively, you can search for evacuated friends and family online here or go to this crowd-sourced people finder.
Christchurch International Airport is now operating both domestic and international airport facilities. Please, however, check your flight details with your airline before you drive to the airport as many flights are delayed. You will also need to allow more time for checking in if you are traveling. The airport is providing free car parking and free wireless / internet access until 2am Monday morning (12 February).
For more up-to-date information, please visit this special local Christchurch government website.
For Queensland Floods Donations, please click here or call 1 800 219 028.