Saturday, September 4, 2010

Canterbury Earthquake

Mother nature shows no respect for anybody.

This is certainly not what I expected to see and experience when I first came to New Zealand - to experience the biggest earthquake in New Zealand in almost 80 years, since the 1931 magnitude 7.8 Hawkes Bay earthquake. At present at least, we are all safe and well; it's just that we are all very exhausted now, physically and mentally. I seriously hope that the worst is over.

Just in case you are still in the dark what had happened, a major earthquake hit Christchurch at 4.35 a.m. that was later announced as a 7.1 magnitude earthquake. It prompted the authorities to declare a civil state of emergency across the city and at present, a curfew until tomorrow morning has been put in place. This earthquake is so much severe compared to the last major earthquake I've experienced in Nagaoka, Japan in July 2007

To experience one major earthquake each in the northern and southern hemisphere is quite a cool thing, isn't it? You might find me that I sound as if I'm taking things easy, and still able to make jokes, but I'm just trying to calm myself down. To be honest, everyone's here are still in the state of shock and not sure what to expect after this. After-shocks still can be felt once in a while until now, and it's expected to continue for the next 24 hours, at least. I don't think anyone of us will be able to fall asleep tonight.

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The neighbours who came to our place to check if everyone's doing alright.

So, I'll briefly describe what happened early this morning.

I woke up around four in the morning to go to the toilet. When I returned to the bed, Mich woke up and told me she was going for a toilet break as well. I didn't know what happened after that, probably because I was so dead tired already, and went to sleep immediately I lied on the bed. The next thing I realised, Mich was shaking my body, trying to wake me up. I woke up and saw the whole room was trembling left and right violently, that I could hardly stand straight.

It wasn't my first time experiencing an earthquake, and I knew it for instant that it was not good at all. It was strong, and it was a long one. Mich was panic, I was panic as well. I told her that it will stop very soon, but it didn't. The whole room continued to shake for the forty seconds or so. But it felt like it was forever!

Among the first thoughts that came to my mind was, "Will we survive this?!"

I am not kidding, it was a really scary moment. One will not understand how severe it is until you have experienced it yourself. To make matter worse, electricity was cut off halfway through the quake and we were left in complete darkness. Imagine being inside a dark room, not being able to see anything and the whole room is shaking.

Fortunately, the quake stopped just before we were gonna get ourselves underneath the table. Mich was searching for her glasses and torchlight in the darkness desperately, and I could sense that she was really panic. I tried my best not to panic myself, and to calm her down. As we were searching for the torchlight, we pushed down the water bottle and it spilled.

We had to turn to other alternatives for light source such as mobile phones and laptops when we were looking for the torchlight. We quickly got out of the room once it was found. Everyone's in the house obviously was up already by then and we checked if everyone's fine. Everyone still looked frightened and scared. Mich was still shaking badly and her voice stuttered when she talked. We wore our thickest jacket, grabbed our passports and mobile phones and got to downstairs. House was in total darkness with occasional continuous strong aftershocks. We tried our best to fill up lots of water bottles and camped in the lounge.

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The three girls in the house, who turned instant reporters, updating their Facebook status immediately the power supply came back.

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There you are, breaking updates on everyone's Facebook.

Power supply was out. Water was running low. We couldn't even turn on the TV to check the latest updates and how were we suppose to react to the situation. At the time, everyone was still depending on the several torchlight we got, as it was still very dark at the moment. Sun only rising at half past six. We have no idea at all how much damage the earthquake had done to the city.

So we waited, and waited, while chatting and joking to loosen things up a little bit. The wait for the sun to rise was like forever. At the same time, we began to fill every water bottles and pails we got with water, fearing that water supply will be gone anytime soon. We weren't sure how much damage the earthquake had done to the house and the city yet at that time. The only thing we could do was to wait patiently for the sunrise.

It finally got brighter, and we went out to look out for any damages. A mini tsunami hit the pool. The water level in the pool was decreased by almost one feet, and the pebbles surrounding the pool were all over the place. Mich's landlord's parents, who were sleeping on the ground floor said that they heard sound of water splashing out, something like the waves that hit the beach.

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The tremor sent water splashing out of the pool and pushed out the dirt up this far.

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The distance between the dirt and the edge of the pool was approximately two meters. 

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This was not caused by the quake. We opened the electric-operated garage manually and the steel just got bent.

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No damages on the road outside, no fallen trees. This was exactly two hours after the quake at half past seven.

When things got settled down a little, we went around the house to inspect for any cracks or damages on the structure. The refrigerator, easily weighs more than 60 kilograms in the kitchen, moved about an inch forward. Upstairs, the quake was felt more. Mich's room was the worst I think, because everything's in a mess. Luckily, the ceiling fan didn't fall on us, as the standing mirror fell and was broken into pieces.

Power supply was finally restored at around eleven in the morning. That was indeed an excellent achievement by the electrical company for their quick action. Before we got back the power supply, we only relied on a radio at home to catch the latest updates on the quake. The radio uses several huge batteries, which we didn't have any at that time. So, uncle became a MacGyver and came out with something creative. It was at that moment that we realised, during emergency times like this, the Internet, laptop, TV, iPod and other stuff are not really that important anymore; but radio is.

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Mich checking on her stuff, which fell off from the shelves.

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The broken mirror, as a result of the strong quake.

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Utilising all the knowledge learned from school, uncle created this circuit for us to get the updates from the radio.

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Most of the TV programs were interrupted and replaced with special coverage of the earthquake all day.

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Central Christchurch business district was closed to public, to avoid dangers coming from the falling debris from the unstable buildings, which could collapse from the after-quake anytime.

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Canterbury Earthquake on September 4, 2010 at .35 a.m.

Mich's landlords and their parents who were scheduled to take the plane back to Malaysia this morning, had to postpone their plans temporarily as the airport was closed. Finally, they managed to board the delayed flight at half past five in the evening, as they didn't want to leave later because the weather is expected to get worse in the next few days.

Anyway, we are glad that we are the first ones to get back our power supply, otherwise we wouldn't be able to cook our lunch and dinner. Besides, we need the heater to keep ourselves warm at night.

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Everyone, including the baby had the same menu for lunch today - mussels and crab stick porridge with fried anchovies, thanks to auntie who cooked for us. 

We have now packed our survival kits, and ready to leave the house anytime, if another strong quake comes, which I hope it won't. There's just another one few seconds ago as I am typing this. In total, there has been several significant after-quakes since I started typing this entry. I don't think any of us will get a good sleep tonight as the place keeps shaking! Gonna take turns to stay awake through the night, I guess.

It's only at these times that we realise the importance of preparing a survival kit, which most of us often take it for granted. I have put all my important stuff - passport, torchlight, spare batteries, some cash into my thick jacket, which I call it my Doraemon jacket 'coz everything's inside the pocket. Filled up bottles of water and placed everything on the door step already, just in case we need to evacuate immediately.

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Building damage in Worcester Street, corner Manchester Street, with ChristChurch Cathedral in the background (Picture from Wikipedia).

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Collapsed facade in Victoria Street (Picture from Wikipedia).

Everybody's drained up already. I think I'm gonna take some rest after posting up this entry.

It is 18 hours since the earthquake. It is expected that there is still to be a significant after-quake to happen, which is quite a concern to everyone now. I have to stay as calm as I can, and stay strong mentally. Just hope that everything will be over as soon as possible. Please.

21 comments:

calyn ojc said...

Everything will be fine. Don't worry. Everyone please stay safe. Take care.

zhenhui said...

take care dude.
glad everyone's safe.

kesenaitsumi89 said...

Wow... Please be careful. Wish you come back Japan safely.

mm n all at home. said...

will pray dat everyone of u b safe n things will b as normal again.May THE TRIPLE GEM protect u all. saddhu saddhu saddhu.

sakura said...

Everything will be alright. Be careful and be safe :)

CLF said...

that's serious mate! come back to Japan or at least Malaysia in one-piece!!

calvin said...

@ calyn ojc:
yes, we are all keeping on toes at all time at the moment. nobody's sure what's coming in the next few hours and days.

calvin said...

@ zhenhui:
thanks!

calvin said...

@ kesenaitsumi89:
thanks for the concern.
i hope my flight back to japan will not be affected :)

calvin said...

@ mm and all at home:
got your sms early this morning.
thanks and we will take care ;)

calvin said...

@ sakura;
appreciate the concern. thank you =)

calvin said...

@ clf:
i'm hoping there will not be another strong after-shake from now. just praying hard that things will return to normal as soon as possible. thanks :)

Extreme Power said...

wow... a big one.

calvin said...

@ extreme power:
yes, it was indeed a huge quake!

nazrul said...

thank god everything was fine. anyway just realized i was on your facebook earthquake message picture...

calvin said...

@ nazrul:
thank you!
yup, i saw you there too =D

sheryl0202 said...

wow, take care mate!!!

Keep us updated!

calvin said...

@ sheryl0202:
yes, thanks for the concern =)

Darren said...

God bless you. ^^.

calvin said...

@ darren:
thank you!

Anonymous said...

The intelligible message