Tuesday, 28 March 2017
News with tag Evacuees  RSS
| New Zealand earthquake officially upgraded to magnitude 7.8 – as it happened

Added: 24.03.2017 11:11 | 2 views | 0 comments

  • HMNZS Canterbury evacuates tourists from Kaikoura
  • US and Australian ships also en route
  • Cordons in central Wellington over fears of building collapse


one of the most complex earthquakes ever recorded on land.

Before (March 2016)/After (Nov 2016) Worldview 2 images of Waipapa Bay (c) NextView. Same location as helicopter pic.


Here’s our latest report from New Zealand on evacuations and fears for wildlife:


The evacuation of Kaikoura is almost complete, Associated Press reports:
Air Commodore Darryn Webb, the acting commander of New Zealand’s joint forces, told the Associated Press that crews were loading about 380 people and three dogs on to a navy ship. He said the ship was due to leave Wednesday evening for a six-hour trip to a port near Christchurch.
Webb said it had evacuated another 340 people by helicopter since Tuesday.


As the dust begins to settle three days after New Zealand’s devastating earthquake, there are growing concerns for the fate of endangered marine wildlife off the coast of Kaikoura, with experts unable to get out to sea to assess their condition.
A submarine canyon 800m off the Kaikoura shore is responsible for the rich array of marine animals attracted to the area, including half a dozen species of whale, rare and endangered dolphins, blue penguins, New Zealand fur seals and protected native bird life.


The upward revising of Monday’s earthquake from 7.5 to 7.8 might not seem huge, but it means more than the 0.3 difference might suggest.
at the US Geological Survey shows that a magnitude 7.8 earthquake is nearly twice as big (1.995 times) as a 7.5 quake.


The revised magnitude of 7.8 makes this the largest earthquake in New Zealand since the Dusky Sound quake of July 2009 – also a 7.8.
Then, the remote location – at New Zealand’s south-west tip, in the Fiordland National Park – meant there were no recorded casualties and few landslides.


The home of the critically endangered Hutton Shearwater in Kaikoura has been severely damaged by the quake.
Karen Baird, Seabird Conservation Advocate for conservation organisation says:
The earthquake has caused a landslide that has damaged the breeding grounds of our critically endangered Hutton Shearwater. Half of the largest colony has slipped away (there are two colonies).
Birds will be on eggs at the moment, so it’s a devastating loss for a species already considered at risk.

Sad news from Kaikoura where half of one of two breeding colonies for Hutton's Shearwater has slipped away.


Geonet, which had originally <(a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/live/2016/nov/16/new-zealand-earthquake-help-stranded-kaikoura-live?page=with:block-582be018e4b06ac41294e04a#block-582be018e4b06ac41294e04a">with caveats) recorded the mainshock at 7.5 magnitude, has on the new 7.8 rating. It explains:
Early indications are that this is one of the most complex earthquakes ever recorded on land. This complexity means we have had to take extraordinary efforts to determine the magnitude, depth, and locations …
Due to the size of the quakes, we’ve gathered data from our entire network of seismic stations. All of these stations would not normally need to be included in magnitude estimates.


The acting minister of civil defence, Gerry Brownlee, also offered an update on the evacuations from Kaikoura:
The HMNZS Canterbury will this evening set sail to Lyttelton [a port town close to Christchurch] with about 390 evacuees from Kaikoura on board.
The ship is expected to arrive around 11pm tonight, depending on weather conditions and the amount of time it takes to upload those waiting in Kaikoura.


Gerry Brownlee, the acting minister of civil defence, has explained why the magnitude of Monday’s mainshock has been revised upwards:
informed my office of the revised magnitude earlier today after reassessing the data from its stations across the country.
Because it took over a minute for the fault to rupture during this event, the standard method normally used to calculate the energy released during an earthquake was insufficient.


Reports had varied on the strength of the initial quake that struck shortly after midnight on Monday morning.
New Zealand’s own monitoring service, Geonet, had measured the earthquake as magnitude 7.5 (and that’s what we at the Guardian have been using in our reporting up to now).
Why were our magnitudes different from the USGS: About magnitude variability
We have currently established that the local magnitude for this earthquake is 7.5, but this may be reviewed over time when more detailed research is undertaken. This may bring it closer to the internationally-derived value (e.g. Mw7.8 by the US Geological Survey).


The New Zealand government has officially upgraded the magnitude of Monday’s earthquake from 7.5 to 7.8.


Evacuations from Kaikoura continue, with hundreds of people – mostly tourists – who have been trapped since the town was cut off from road access now being taken out by boat to the navy vessel HMNZS Canterbury:


The latest report from Geonet, New Zealand’s earthquake monitor, tallies the number of quakes felt in the country since Monday’s mainshock at 1,823.
At 4.30pm local time (2.30pm AEDT, 3.30am GMT), Geonet had recorded 15 quakes in the previous hour, and 307 in the preceding 12 hours.

16.30 pm update: 15 eqs in last hour, 307 eqs in last 12 hrs (18 over M4) and 1823 eqs since the M7.5. Kaikoura Earthquake


One unexpected side-effect of the quake has been the apparent raising of the seabed at Kaikoura.
Dr Joshu Mountjoy, a marine geologist at the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, the phenomenon was probably due to movement of the Hundalee fault:
Some faults go side-to-side while others move vertically, like in this case, where the fault has pushed the land up into the air, and it appears to be by about a metre.

Aerial photographs show the seabed uplift north of Kaikoura - estimated to be between 2 - 2.5 metres.

Before (March 2016)/After (Nov 2016) Worldview 2 images of Waipapa Bay (c) NextView. Same location as helicopter pic.


Reuters has this report on the latest from the South Island coastal town:
Two New Zealand navy vessels on Wednesday reached a small South Island town cut off for more than two days by a devastating earthquake, bringing supplies of food and water and plans to evacuate hundreds of stranded tourists and residents.
Prime minister John Key went to Kaikoura by helicopter to inspect damage to roads that cut off the seaside tourist town after the 7.5 magnitude quake that struck just after midnight on Sunday.

Flew down to Kaikoura again today to check in with locals and get an idea of what further support the region needs.
The government was expecting to receive satellite imagery later on Wednesday to assess massive landslips around the country. The quake buffeted much of central New Zealand and left two people dead.
“Look at this road here,” Key said on his journey to Kaikoura, around 150km (90 miles) north of Christchurch. “I just don’t see how you can ever repair that bit of road. The whole mountain has moved over.”


A sense of the scale of the task ahead clearing roads to Kaikoura and other towns cut off by landslides is emerging as more pictures arrive.
This is the road to Waiau <(a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/nov/15/surviving-in-waiau-the-forgotten-town-closest-to-the-nz-quake-epicentre">read more about how that town is coping here):


Evacuations – principally of tourists – are continuing from Kaikoura. In addition to the airlifts that began yesterday, HMNZS Canterbury is now anchored nearby and people are being taken out of the stranded town by sea.

Those 1200-odd tourists being evacuated from Kaikoura sure come with a lot of luggage

Supplies are coming thick & fast on choppers returning from Woodend welfare centre


The evacuation in central Wellington is affecting a number of other organisations who have their offices on Molesworth Street – including the New Zealand Red Cross, which is playing a key role in relief efforts elsewhere in the country.
New Zealand Rugby headquarters, the Thai embassy and the city’s Anglican cathedral have also been evacuated.

We are working hard to get our HQ up & running, whilst ensuring the priority remains helping the people of


The mayor of Wellington, Justin Lester has just been speaking about the office building at 61 Molesworth Street, in the centre of the city, that has been deemed unsafe and liable to collapse.
He told reporters:
Internally there were some problems … That’s why it’s a likelihood it will be deconstructed.


The US department of defence has deployed the USS Sampson to aid the relief effort in New Zealand.
The warship was already in the region as part of events to mark Royal New Zealand Navy’s 75th anniversary. It was the first US warship to visit New Zealand for 30 years, since Wellington adopted a nuclear-free policy in the 1980s. That meant a blanket ban on US ships, since America will not confirm whether its vessels have nuclear capabilities.
The guided missile destroyer USS Sampson is rushing to New Zealand to help those affected by a magnitude 7.5 earthquake …
Navy Admiral Harry Harris, the Pacom commander, said the ship carries two MH-60R Seahawk helicopters that will be invaluable at the scene …


Department of conservation (DOC) ranger Mike Morrissey that some seals were likely to have been killed in the landslide at Ohau Point, while others would be returning from sea to find their home gone:
Those seals generally come back to the area where they were born. They’ll go in there and it won’t be like anywhere they recognise before, so they’ll probably just go and breed on other parts of the coast.
The majority of that breeding colony [at Ohau Point] is completely gone. It’s just rock.


Environmentalist Kimberley Collins has shared this video of seals at Kaikoura’s Ohau Point – the area is believed to have been destroyed by landslides prompted by the earthquake:

Gutted to hear the seal breeding colony at Ohau Point has been destroyed in the quake. I loved watching them play in the rock pools!


Meanwhile, in Wellington, Molesworth Street in the CBD – just round the corner from the parliament – remains cordoned off amid fears an office building is facing collapse.

another view of building on Molesworth
We have a clear structural failure. What’s caused that will be determined later. The clear structural failure is a major beam, a vertical beam in the building, has been shorn.
It looks somewhat like a broken bone in the leg. It is fractured through. It is a major supporting beam. It is up above the fifth floor, so it is the top four floors.


As relief efforts continue for people affected by the quake and its fallout, concerns are also shifting to the fate of wildlife, especially in the South Island.
Kaikoura’s famed seal sanctuary at Ohau Point is reported to have been wiped out by a landslide.
It is clear from reports that the recent earthquakes have impacted upon wildlife, including seals, penguins and seabirds. DOC’s immediate priority in the aftermath of the earthquakes is to assist Civil Defence with the recovery effort, including ensuring that structures and tracks are safe.
DOC is aware there has been a large slip at Ohau Point, which is a specially protected seal sanctuary. Images indicate the landslips are likely to have resulted in casualties to seals.


Although relief efforts – and international attention – have been focused on Kaikoura, which has been cut off from road access since the quake struck in the early hours of Monday, other communities have also been hit. And some feel they need more help than they are getting, as Eleanor Ainge Roy reports from Waiau, the town closest to the epicentre:
Waiau, in north Canterbury, is home to 280 people. Its name means flowing water in Māori. And flowing water has been the community’s main concern these last couple of days, after unstable bridges over the grey Waiau river made road access impossible for relief vehicles, or residents wanting to leave.
Although located only 80km (50 miles) south-west of Kaikoura – where a massive relief operation is under way – people in Waiau feel they have been left to fend for themselves.


The initial magnitude 7.5 earthquake hit just after midnight as Sunday moved into Monday – 60 hours later, New Zealand has been shaken by 1,718 quakes, some severe.
New Zealanders have been warned that aftershocks are likely to continue for some time yet.

12 pm update: 37 eqs in the last hour, 336 eqs in last 12 hrs (21 over M4) and 1718 eqs since the M7.5. Kaikoura Earthquake


Welcome to our continuing live coverage of the aftermath of Monday’s massive earthquake in New Zealand.
Relief efforts continue, with hundreds of people who have been stranded in Kaikoura, a coastal town in the South Island popular with tourists, starting to be shipped out to the HMNZS Canterbury, which has anchored nearby.

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