It’s now after 9pm on Tuesday 22 February and our thoughts have been focussed on Christchurch for the past 8 hours or so. My wife was due to travel to Greymouth today for a couple of days. That trip is now off. Instead we are glued to the TV screen and supporting a friend from Christchurch who will be staying with us tonight. The disaster in Christchurch has got very close to home indeed.
My wife worked for four years in an office in Christchurch before moving to the Nelson branch. She was on the 5th (and top) floor of the CTV building near Latimer Square. That building fell down today. At the moment it’s still on fire. Her manager was in Nelson today and together they watched a couple of the Chch staff describing on TV a miraculous escape. They were at a meeting, about ten people in a room on that 5th floor, plus a baby. Then the earthquake hit, by all accounts much worse shaking than the September one. The whole building collapsed, their floor dropped, a wall fell out and they found themselves at ground level, able to be helped out by the people outside. Right now all but one of that team are accounted for, some with serious injuries. It is remarkable! We have no news about the person still trapped and our thoughts are with her. These are friends and colleagues.
Neither do we know much about the situation of the people on the lower four floors, except that most of them are still trapped in there. The TV cameras spend a lot of time looking down that street and it’s shocking to see the buildings on either side, with just a smoking gap between them. When we lived in Christchurch, my wife quite frequently used to help out CTV by filling in for an interview when they had a last-minute ‘no show’. That TV studio is gone now, somewhere in this pile.
Incidently, I had been watching a different channel. When my wife rang from work to say that she had seen a shot of the CTV building and it was devastated, I was tempted to reassure her, that is was probably a mistake. This was the picture she saw.
Another major building to collapse (the PGG building in Cambridge Terrace) holds the office of the Board Chairman who was my boss during our time in Christchurch. I hope he and his staff have survived!
We were in Christchurch two weeks ago, walking around the CBD, had lunch in Lyttelton where it is said most of the main street buildings are devastated, and stayed at Diamond Harbour (which was the epicenter for a 4.5 aftershock around 4pm).
Right now we are glad to be alive, and trying our best to give support toi those who need it.