Latest quake a cruel blow for people of Christchurch

EDITORIAL

Yesterday’s strong earthquake in Christchurch was a severe psychological blow for a long-suffering city — and a warning for the rest of the country, not the least including Gisborne, of how vulnerable we are.

On the face of it the quake was moderately strong, measuring 5.7 and resulting in only minor injuries and damage. Mercifully there was no loss of life, although a group of young lifesavers had a lucky escape when a section of the cliff at Sumner collapsed near them.

But it has come at a time when the city is close to marking the fifth anniversary of the February 2011 disaster that left 185 people dead and devastated New Zealand’s second largest city.

As time passed, the people of Christchurch would have begun to believe that there was a new normal for the city, just as there had been for Napier and Hastings after 236 people died in the Hawke’s Bay earthquake in 1931.

It is no surprise then to hear that some Cantabrians feel their nerves have been torn to shreds, and remain on edge. The continuing after-shocks that always follow a quake of this magnitude are a form of mental torture for them.

Gisborne people are among those most able to sympathise, as this has been the scene of a number of big earthquakes.

As Christchurch continues its massive rebuild effort, Gisborne still has some legacies, both direct and indirect, from the 2007 earthquake.

Earlier this month the District Council’s environmental planning and regulations committee was told that there were 49 buildings in the city on which work was still required.

Of course the district faces a major expense in the rebuilding of the council’s administration centre, which has been extremely controversial and will cost its new owner, council-owned Gisborne Holdings Ltd, some $12 million.

A Christchurch High Court case also means the council cannot legally enforce its recommended 66 percent of strengthening to the national building code, and is reduced to asking building owners to meet it — which many already have, or surpassed.

Yesterday’s strong earthquake in Christchurch was a severe psychological blow for a long-suffering city — and a warning for the rest of the country, not the least including Gisborne, of how vulnerable we are.

On the face of it the quake was moderately strong, measuring 5.7 and resulting in only minor injuries and damage. Mercifully there was no loss of life, although a group of young lifesavers had a lucky escape when a section of the cliff at Sumner collapsed near them.

But it has come at a time when the city is close to marking the fifth anniversary of the February 2011 disaster that left 185 people dead and devastated New Zealand’s second largest city.

As time passed, the people of Christchurch would have begun to believe that there was a new normal for the city, just as there had been for Napier and Hastings after 236 people died in the Hawke’s Bay earthquake in 1931.

It is no surprise then to hear that some Cantabrians feel their nerves have been torn to shreds, and remain on edge. The continuing after-shocks that always follow a quake of this magnitude are a form of mental torture for them.

Gisborne people are among those most able to sympathise, as this has been the scene of a number of big earthquakes.

As Christchurch continues its massive rebuild effort, Gisborne still has some legacies, both direct and indirect, from the 2007 earthquake.

Earlier this month the District Council’s environmental planning and regulations committee was told that there were 49 buildings in the city on which work was still required.

Of course the district faces a major expense in the rebuilding of the council’s administration centre, which has been extremely controversial and will cost its new owner, council-owned Gisborne Holdings Ltd, some $12 million.

A Christchurch High Court case also means the council cannot legally enforce its recommended 66 percent of strengthening to the national building code, and is reduced to asking building owners to meet it — which many already have, or surpassed.

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