The February 2011 Christchurch earthquake was a powerful natural event that severely damaged New Zealand‘s second-largest city, killing 185 people in what has been described as one of the nation’s worst peacetime disasters.
The magnitude 6.3 (ML) earthquake that struck the Canterbury region in New Zealand’s South Island at 12:51 pm on Tuesday, 22 February 2011 local time (23:51 21 February UTC). The earthquake was centred 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) west of the town of Lyttelton, and 10 kilometres (6 mi) south-east of the centre of Christchurch, New Zealand’s second-most populous city. It followed nearly six months after the magnitude 7.1 Canterbury earthquake of 4 September 2010, which caused significant damage to Christchurch and the central Canterbury region, but no direct fatalities.
The earthquake caused widespread damage across Christchurch, especially in the central city and eastern suburbs, with damage exacerbated by buildings and infrastructure already being weakened by the 4 September 2010 earthquake and its aftershocks. Significant liquefaction affected the eastern suburbs, producing around 400,000 tonnes of silt. The earthquake was reported to be felt across the South Island and the lower and central North Island.
In total, 185 people were killed in the earthquake, making the earthquake the second-deadliest natural disaster recorded in New Zealand (after the1931 Hawke’s Bay earthquake), and fourth-deadliest disaster of any kind recorded in New Zealand, with nationals from more than 20 countries among the victims. Over half of the deaths occurred in the six-storey Canterbury Television (CTV) Building, which collapsed and caught fire in the quake. Thegovernment declared a state of national emergency, which stayed in force until 30 April 2011.
It has been estimated that the total cost of rebuilding to insurers to be around NZ$20–30 billion, making it by far New Zealand’s costliest natural disaster, and the third-costliest earthquake (nominally) worldwide.
The earthquake has been the most damaging in a year-long earthquake swarm affecting the Christchurch area. It has been followed by a large aftershock on 13 June (which caused considerable additional damage) and a series of large shocks on 23 December 2011.
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