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    Right-side ruins of a cathedral whose bell tower has collapsed.
    Scars still clearly visible marked Blessed Sacrament Cathedral’s appearance. Its future remained uncertain until the building’s demolition was officially announced at the end of 2019.

    Back to New Zealand on Tuesday, February 22, 2011 at 12:50 p.m.

    Like every weekday, Christchurch’s city centre is buzzing with people, some eating or drinking coffee, others working, walking or sleeping under a tree by the river. Whether they’re residents, office workers, students, factory workers or foreign tourists, for them, this world will collapse in a few seconds…

    Suddenly, a thud emanates from the Earth’s depths and the ground begins to shake. The shockwave amplifies, windows shatter, car alarms go off and people rush to safety. The next second, pieces of buildings smashed into the streets. Inside the buildings, all objects fall violently, light bulbs explode, walls crack, screams echo in the general panic… Not even time to breathe, many constructions collapse heavily and, in places where the ground density is low, sand streams thrown into the air plunge downtown Christchurch into a terrifying cloud of dust. Finally, the earthquake diminishes and the thud gives way to chaos after ten seconds that will remain in Christchurch’s memory and its history.

    The city in a state of shock, rescue efforts are rapidly mobilized despite several horrible aftershocks. Every second counts as survivors are extracted from the rubble. Men and women are moving concrete blocks, twisted scrap metal, bricks and wooden planks to save a sister, a brother, a child, a friend or a stranger. And as sirens sounded everywhere, thousands of people crowded into safe havens, particularly in the parks spared by the disaster. For everyone, the emotional shock brings uncertainty, pain, fear, the joy of hugging loved ones and, sadly, infinite sadness. 185 people died and many were seriously injured.

    To learn more about earthquakes in New Zealand: link to GNS Science, Te Pū Ao

    A red and white sign on a wire fence indicates that the road is closed. An orange sign also specifies that pedestrians, bicycles and authorized persons may circulate.
    In the east of the city, near the mouth of the River Avon, 600 hectares unsuitable for reconstruction constitute the notorious Red Zone. Over the years, this former residential area has been restored and redeveloped for recreational projects.

    An elevated view of 185 white chairs arranged side by side.
    This surprising memorial by Pete Majendie features 185 white chairs, each different from the next. This local artist represents the individuality of those who died in the Christchurch earthquake on February 22, 2011.

    Sculpted into the marble, a text in English explains that a violent earthquake devastated the city of Christchurch, killing 185 people and injuring many more.
    Located on the banks of the River Avon, the Canterbury National Memorial pays tribute to those who died, injured and survivors of this terrible disaster.

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