New Zealand Braving Hazardous Conditions to Rescue Those Trapped by Earthquake

New Zealand isn’t often in the news, but the earthquake that devastated its second city, Christchurch, was so dramatic and shocking that it managed to overtake reports of the seismic shifts taking place in the Middle East.

The earthquake couldn’t have hit a more beautiful place. Christchurch is known as the garden city, which says it all.

The New Zealand people are strong, practical people and will put right what has been destroyed.

The city, in fact, dodged a bullet five months ago when a larger quake struck. Thankfully, nobody was killed. But seismologists suggest the earlier one was deeper and Christchurch was not as close to its epicenter.

Still, the quake is likely to have weakened many buildings, and when the second one struck those structures came tumbling down.

Rescue teams have been working through the night to try and find those still trapped under the debris from the quake.

They have been working in atrocious conditions. Heavy rain and aftershocks have hampered rescuers.

Some trapped survivors have made calls for help by mobile phone, including a group of Japanese exchange students.

The earthquakes experienced in recent years -- such as in China, Indonesia and Pakistan -- show that the next 24 hours is crucial if these people are to be saved.

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key says this may be his country’s darkest day.

The magnitude 6.3 quake struck during the lunch hour in New Zealand’s second city, its streets packed with shoppers and office workers.

The earthquake left the center of the city devastated, with buildings collapsing and dazed and bleeding survivors on the streets.

Multi-story buildings folded like packs of cards and rubble flew down onto traffic crushing vehicles, including two double-decker buses.

The ground was littered with shattered glass, paperwork, computers and desks.
The city’s cathedral lost its spire and the six-story Canterbury TV building collapsed, leaving a pile of smoking rubble.

Emergency services were quickly overwhelmed by the size of the disaster, but survivors joined them to help carry the injured away.

Helicopters and cranes were used to pluck people to safety from atop buildings that were in danger of collapsing.

The main airport had been closed for a while because the air traffic control tower was damaged by the quake.

New Zealand has now mobilized Hercules transport aircraft to bring in much-needed supplies. The rescue effort is also being hampered by power and mobile phone networks being disrupted and burst water mains that have created torrents of water in some areas of the city.

Part of a nearby glazier also fell into a lake, causing large waves to hit the shore.
Christchurch had been hit by a larger quake five months ago, and amazingly nobody was killed.Still, buildings are likely to have been weakened by the last earthquake and that’s possibly why this quake has caused so much devastation.

Seismologists said that despite this quake being smaller, it was more destructive than the earlier quake because it was nearer to Christchurch’s center and much closer to the earth's surface.

New Zealand sits on the "pacific ring of fire," a vast circle of seismic activity stretching along South America on one side to Japan and Indonesia on the other.