As many of you will know, yesterday at 12:51pm NZT the city of Christchurch, which suffered a 7.1 magnitude earthquake in September last year, was struck by another massive earthquake - this time much shallower and more violent.
While the September earthquake caused significant infrastructure and property damage, there was fortunately no loss of life. The city has not been so lucky this time. The 6.3 magnitude earthquake has claimed many lives, and some people remain trapped in buildings which have come down with the force of the 'quake. Buildings facades have crushed cars and buses. The iconic Cathedral in the heart of the city, which survived the earlier 'quake and more than 1000 aftershocks, has been badly damaged (see photo), and many other historic buildings have been destroyed. The city, and the country, is in shock.
Thank you for all the messages of support I've received over email and Facebook etc. I now live in Auckland (far from the 'quake zone), but lived for five years in Christchurch, which is a wonderful city, and I have many friends who still live there. Some with young families. Those I have been able to contact thusfar are all safe, if badly shaken.
In terms of books and crime fiction related people in Christchurch, crime writer Paul Cleave has said he is okay, but feels devastated at the destruction and loss of life. Thriller writer Andrew Grant has confirmed he and his family are well, although some of his friends have lost their homes - he's taken some in. Thriller writer Steve Malley has posted on Facebook saying he is okay too. I have yet to hear from many of the fantastic people involved with the Christchurch Writer's Festival, the Ngaio Marsh Award, or the Ngaio Marsh House, but have my fingers crossed that they are all okay too. It's a terrible time for a great city, and we can only hope that the emergency service personnel continue to pull survivors from the rubble, not just bodies.
Many people from around New Zealand and around the world are watching on, concerned, feeling helpless, and wishing there was some way they could help. Christchurch is a great city, but it is going to be facing a long road to recovery. While in some ways I want to jump on a plane and go down to help hands-on, the fact is that there are many terrific, capable, expertly-trained people there (and heading there from our friends in Australia and elsewhere around the world, with many countries generously pitching in, immediately offering/sending help and resources) who are doing a great job in a tough, tough situation. Those urban search and rescue and Civil Defence volunteers are just doing an amazing job, in concert with the police, defence force, and other emergency service personnel. Let alone all the 'average citizens' who've just stepped up to help friends, colleagues, and random strangers in need. I, and many others who would like to help, would simply be getting in the way at this stage. So how can we help?
Well, a number of emergency and relief funds are starting to be activated, and many organisations are taking donations to help with relief. Prime Minister John Key has said the best way people from around New Zealand and the world can help is to make cash donations to help the city and its residents get back on their feet. Here is some donation and relief information, courtesy of the New Zealand Herald website:
People can make a donation to the Canterbury Earthquake Appeal either at an ANZ Branch (account number 01-1839-0188939-00) or at the National bank (account number 06-0869-0548507-00).
Donations can be made to the Red Cross online or via the GrabOne website, as the Red Cross site has been crashing.
Offers of goods or services can be sent to the National Crisis Management Centre in Wellington, email here.
Donations can be made to the Westpac Canterbury Care Fund, which is in partnership with the Salvation Army, either at branches nationwide or to the account number 03-0207-0617331-00.
People can donate to the Salvation Army Earthquake appeal online here or by calling 0800 53 00 00.
Donations can be made to the Rotary New Zealand World Community Service here.
Donations can be made to the Christchurch Earthquake Support Fund in ASB branches or online (account number 12-3205-0146808-00). Across the Tasman, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, is also accepting donations for the New Zealand Red Cross.
The Christchurch SPCA has opened a Pet Emergency Earthquake Fund. You can donate money here or to the Westpac account 030802 0586429 00.
Vodafone users can donate to the Red Alert Canterbury Earthquake Appeal by texting "Quake" to 333 to make a $3 donation to the Red Cross Canterbury Earthquake Appeal.
Whether you are in New Zealand or overseas, I hope that you will find at least one organisation above that you feel comfortable contributing towards. Our friends in Christchurch are going to need a lot of help in the coming days, weeks, and months.