Saturday, September 4, 2010

LDS Church Reports All Missionaries Safe And Accounted For After Destructive 7.0 Earthquake In Christchurch, New Zealand; Aftershocks Expected

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints reports that all of its missionaries have been accounted for and are safe after a destructive 7.0 earthquake rocked the city of Christchurch on South Island in New Zealand on September 4th, 2010. As is the custom after a natural disaster, missionaries will suspend proselyting efforts and revert into service mode, being deployed to assist in recovery and relief as needed at the discretion of Church authorities. Local church leaders are assessing the status of church members, their homes and LDS buildings in the affected area. The LDS temple in New Zealand is located in Hamilton on North Island, and is unlikely to have sustained any damage.

Update September 7th: The official LDS New Zealand website reports that seven LDS families are known to have been displaced by the earthquake. In addition, two chapels, Fendalton and Avonside, sustained some structural damage. The remaining meetinghouses at Opawa, Cashmere, Rangiora and Ashburton are all in good condition, experiencing only minor cracks and no structural or safety concerns.

The earthquake, centered 27 miles west of Christchurch, struck at 4:35 A.M. on Saturday September 4th, 2010 (New Zealand time). Initially reported to be 7.4 magnitude, it has since been officially downgraded to 7.0. Some witnesses say that after an initial explosive jolt, they experienced a long rolling motion for about 40 seconds. While most modern buildings sustained little to no damage, older buildings, particularly those with masonry, sustained serious damage, with walls and facades collapsing. Some water mains broke, and some highways were cracked. No deaths have been reported yet, although up to 100 people have been injured, most requiring little more than first aid. While some people are reportedly trapped in their damaged homes, no one is yet being reported to be buried under any rubble. Some sporadic looting took place downtown, but was quickly suppressed.

Al-Jazeera supplies the following video which shows aerial views of the damage while the mayor is being interviewed:

Aftershocks have occurred, with one 5.7 temblor experienced just 20 minutes after the main quake. More are expected. The Christchurch City Council declared a state of emergency, allowing authorities to force evacuations and prohibit entry into areas believed unsafe, as well as to proclaim a curfew. Eighty police officers from Auckland are deploying to Christchurch to assist. New Zealand Prime Minister John Key is visiting the city to assess damage. While daytime temperatures in the area are reaching 60F, nighttime temperatures are dipping to around 40F. More background information about Christchurch available HERE.

Much more detailed reports are streaming out of New Zealand. Here are some of the better reports:

-- "Huge earthquake rocks Christchurch", An extremely detailed report of damage and conditions, topically organized.

-- "Heavy damage at quake epicentre", Chronicles the damage west of Christchurch near the quake's origin.

-- "Frustration in damaged city", Includes accounts of some narrow escapes. Also includes a video.

-- "Christchurch CBD in lockdown as night falls",

-- "Latest updates: Canterbury earthquake", Post being periodically updated by the source with new reports.

As of December 31st, 2009, the LDS Church officially reported that there were 100,962 members in New Zealand scattered among 203 congregations.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Upon talking with a LSD member of some thirty-five years in your church, He stated "That it is Gods retribution on the City of Christchurch. For them to turn back to God and away from the Wizard" Is this the church's point of view or just one of your Latter Day Saints (an elder also) personal view?
Thanking you,

concerned believer