Friday, February 25, 2011

'No water in Christchurch,

thousands left city'

Ravit Avraham, Israeli residing in New Zealand describes post-quake catastrophe, unimaginable destruction as death toll rises to 113, with 300 still missing. Tanks block city center as more rescue teams arrive

Aviel Magnezi

VIDEO - Ravit Avraham, an Israeli travel agent, has been living in the peaceful New Zealand city of Christchurch for the past decade. But nothing could have prepared her, her husband and children for the horrific earthquake that hit the city earlier this week.

The official death toll continues to climb, currently standing at 113, and officials said rescue teams had pulled nothing but bodies from the rubble of collapsed buildings for 48 hours. About 300 people are still considered missing.

"I never thought that something like this could happen. After the previous earthquake (in September 2010) the city returned to normal within a couple of weeks. Geologists talked about a stronger quake yet to come which will 'level the ground' but no one ever imagined such destruction and death," Avraham told Ynet. "We'll get over the destruction. Buildings fall and they will be rebuilt, the city will be rebuilt. The catastrophe is the loss of lives."

Avraham is in constant contact with Israeli tourists in New Zealand, and even accommodated two Israelis when the earthquake hit. According to her, authorities continue to search for missing people.

"The city center is blocked off by tanks, which we never see in New Zealand. Professional rescue teams are here from the United States, Canada, Japan and Taiwan, and another team from Britain is expected to arrive. There are a lot of people who wish to come search for their missing relatives, but the entrance is closed out of fear they'll get hurt or disturb the search and rescue teams," she added.

Avraham said the teams are still looking for survivors. "They're listening for voices. They'll evacuate the bodies later," she said. "Many neighborhoods are flooded. Bridges have collapsed and roads have split open. About 80% of the residents don't have water."

According to Avraham, many residents decided to flee the city. "Half of them don't have electricity, telephones, internet or any contact with the outer world. Thousands have left the city. At least 1,000 homes have been ruined and many other houses cannot be lived in for fear they will collapse.


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