Circling The Square


“It’s an opportunity for the ‘leaders of the community’  to pretend they are not to blame for allowing people into and near buildings already damaged in the Boxing Day quake when this magnitude of tremor was predicted to happen…” Anonymous comment on my blogpost on the Memorial Service*

I went to the opening of the IPC Games in Christchurch on 19 January to take some video of the Swiss Team, whose manager I’d just met.

 To improve my camera angle I sneaked in behind the stage and portable grandstand, which had the official party, including the Prime Minister and overseas dignitaries, lined up with their backs a few metres from the front doors of Christ Church Cathedral.

 This was only a three weeks after the downtown Boxing Day Quake, pretty much centred in the CBD, had caused fresh alarm and new damage in the retail area after the 7.1 quake of 4 September.

 As I composed my shots I found that I had backed directly below the Cathedral’s parapet and spire. I was aware that the latter had been damaged four times over 130 years by earthquakes. After experiencing thousands of aftershocks since September I was just a little seismically sensitive  so I moved  a few metres forward and felt safer. It was just an illusion.  As I saw for myself in The Square on 22 February, on my way back to my offices minutes after the lethal 6.3 quake,  the official party and I would have  been sitting and standing where the rubble dropped as the spire broke and spiraled down.

 Luckily the Paraplegic Games opening and games got through without any major shakes or incidents, though both The Square and QUII Stadium are now badly damaged and off-limits. More than 100 buildings in the CBD are either already demolished or threatened with demolition.

Looking back, as a city understandably keen to get back to normal post 4 September 2010 and pre 22 February 2011, we were remarkably blasé about still having the Games Opening in the Square after a procession through the inner streets of Christchurch. As  the cordons are progressively lifted in the months to come we will be somewhat more cautious as we venture in to the inner city.

Apart from running a great Games in January the city has made another contribution. As well as the sad new daily death notices,  as earthquake victims are identified, there has been a  swelling of the numbers of those eligible to compete in the next IPC Games, including one young Japanese man who had to have his foot amputated to be released from the wreckage of the  CTV building.

He arrived back in a Tokyo hospital in time for the the magnitude 9.0 quake last week*.

*BLINKS  Graphic images from Japan Vid Breaking News of Japan’s earthquake 11 Mar 2011

 #Lyall Lukey 19 Mar 2011 My other (bit more serious) blog


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