It is Tuesday 22nd February, 2011. I have spent the better part of my day today glued to the television but it is not what you think. I have been watching the rolling coverage of the earthquake that hit 10km south-east of Christchurch, in the South Island of beautiful New Zealand, At 6.3 magnitude, it has been deemed to be less severe than the earthquake that hit the same area last September, where there had been no loss of lives. However, the devastation has been unprecedented this time – the quake hit at 12.51pm local time on a Tuesday afternoon, when people were at work or outside having lunch, and kids were in class at school. Christchurch was still rebuilding from the September earthquake, and many buildings had been weakened by that quake, exacerbating the impact of today’s quake. As I write, the confirmed death toll stands at 65 and is expected to rise as more than 200 people remain unaccounted for.
Our Australian Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, spoke in Parliament earlier, announcing that a search and rescue (SAR) team was already on its way to help our neighbours across the Tasman (NZ is approximately 3hrs south-east of the Australian east coast – even closer than we are from Central and Western Australia). She reminded us of the ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) spirit, that we rise to the occasion and provide whatever assistance we could to help our neighbours, as they experience one of the “darkest days” in NZ.