Christchurch Earthquake

22/02/2011

A magnitude 6.3 earthquake struck Christchurch, New Zealand at 11.53 GMT on Monday 21 February – this was shortly before 1pm on the 22nd local time. It was smaller than the quake that shook the city in September last year but it was shallow, very close to the city centre and during daylight hours when people were more likely to be at risk from collapsing buildings. The damage has been extensive and the New Zealand Prime Minister has said that at least 65 people have died. Between one and two hundred people are reported to be still trapped in the rubble and rescue efforts are continuing.
 
It is clear that this is a major disaster and the impact on those affected has been appalling. A very significant rescue, relief and rebuilding effort will be required. The New Zealand Red Cross had teams providing support in the immediate aftermath of the quake and is sending further teams from around the country. They expected to launch an appeal in the coming hours.
 
With the exception the Red Cross, the members of the DEC and their partners are only experts at responding to disasters in poorer developing countries. In these places, infrastructure is usually weak, government agencies often have limited capacity and many people are already extremely vulnerable even before a disaster due to chronic poverty. Although the Christchurch earthquake has been devastating, the New Zealand authorities and civil society remain in a very strong position to mount an appropriate and timely response. Most DEC member agencies will therefore not be involved in responding to the Christchurch earthquake.
 
The DEC will not be launching an appeal but the British Red Cross have set up an appeal to support the response of the New Zealand Red Cross in Christchurch.
 
If you are concerned about someone who may have been affected by the earthquake please try to contact them by telephone, mobile phone or email.  If you are unable to contact family members in the affected area, please call the New Zealand Red Cross on 64 7 850 2199. There is further information about contacting family members and life-long friends who may have been affected available from the British Red Cross.