- A cliff-top house is seen after its portion fell over a ledge in Sumner, near Christchurch, New Zealand, Monday, June 13. (Mark Mitchell) (Photo: Associated Press)
A terminally trembling New Zealand experienced at least two powerful earthquakes Monday afternoon. The quakes rumbled at 5.6 miles underground about 8 miles northeast of Christchurch, which is still recovering from a disastrous temblor in February that killed 166 people. There are no reported deaths this time, although scores of people are in hospitals after being conked by falling debris. (Two different quakes also struck Fiji and the Kingdom of Tonga, but people aren’t talking about that – why does the mainstream press hate Austronesians?)
The dueling quakes ripped holes in streets and caused the ground to undulate like the ocean. The bleak Christchurch downtown got even bleaker as a few of the buildings that remain toppled over. New Zealand has one of the highest quake tolerances in the world – look at how many shallow-depth quakes have occurred in the last 60 days – but still, this day was pretty miserable. In a cruel twist, an inquest into how 115 people were crushed and burned during the February quake in one building alone was cancelled as the meeting participants fled into the street.
This security-camera footage shows the panic during Monday’s shakes:
One of the stranger stories coming out of Christchurch is how much of the city is awash in a disturbing gray ooze. Like this:
The sludge is apparently the product of broken underground water pipes and a seismic phenomenon called liquefaction, in which damp, loose soil acts like a liquid when it's violently shaken. Liquefaction can flood houses with nasty silt or suck them down into the ground like quicksand.
In Burwood, one Brooker Ave resident, who was too upset to speak, was trying to clean silt out of his lounge from the 1pm quake when the second one struck.
The road split down the middle and several mini geysers spurted sludge and water on to the road. Within minutes, the whole street was flooded and several cars were trapped.