Saturday, March 5, 2011

Exodus in Christchurch after the earthquake

A total of 70,000 people or one fifth of the population has left the New Zealand city of Christchurch, beaten by a strong earthquake on 22 February, local television reported. The mayor of the city in the South Island, Bob Park, said residents were evacuated or left for other locations due to the collapse of dozens of houses and cut electricity and water.

Authorities raised the death toll to 163, although they estimate that number to reach 220 when all the bodies recovered from the rubble in Chrischurch, the second largest city with nearly 400,000 inhabitants. Only 20 bodies, including two Israelis and a Thai, have been identified by the Police of the total of deaths from a dozen countries in the earthquake of 6.3 magnitude on the Richter scale.

On Thursday, the New Zealand authorities ruled that there are survivors under the rubble of collapsed buildings and focused tasks in the recovery of bodies. "Unfortunately, because the time has come the time to focus on the recovery of bodies," said the head of Civil Protection, John Hamilton, told a news conference.

An international team of 900 people working in the rescue of bodies, including Chinese and Japanese 120 students under the collapsed walls of a language school that was inside the television building of Canterbury. On Tuesday, New Zealand Prime Minister, John Key, promised to rebuild the city and create a commission of inquiry to investigate why so many buildings fell like houses of cards in an area of known seismic activity.

The reconstruction will cost at least U.S. $ 12,000 million (8,700 million euros) and the economy will not recover until June sustained growth, because of the disaster. New Zealand sits on the fault between the tectonic plates of the Pacific and Oceania and records about 14,000 earthquakes each year, of which 100 and 150 are strong enough to be perceived.

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