Christchurch (Agenzia Fides) – New Zealand Catholic Mission National Director, Fr Paul Shannahan sm, says in a statement sent to Fides by Catholic Mission, Australia: “A violent earthquake suddenly shook the South Island city of Christchurch just before 1 pm today. It measured 6.3 on the Richter scale. The Central business area saw many buildings partly or wholly collapsing especially the older ones. Sixty five deaths have been reported so far, as people are freed from under rubble and collapsed shop verandas. Two buses were hit by falling debris and deaths are anticipated.... The two well known Anglican and Catholic cathedrals have seen large sections fall to the ground and they may be beyond repair.” But, says Fr Shannahan, “The biggest ‘damage’ is on people.” Catholic Mission has launched a prayer campaign in 160 countries around the world to pray for the people of Christchurch.
In Catholic Mission's Media Release, Fr Shannahan recounts that “Many were traumatised in the 7.1 quake last September but this one is worse in that it was in the middle of a working and school day. It hit with such vigour. It shook whole building violently. Hundreds have sustained injuries but shock and fear is scaring them even more. Thousands are trying to get home and many more are leaving the city to stay elsewhere. A full scale emergency has been declared. Army personal and Civil defence personal have been enlisted to assist Police and Fire brigades. The latter are mainly doing rescue work but now fires have broken out but they have little water to fight them. Helicopters have begun dropping huge amounts of water on the biggest blazes.”
The Australian National PMS Director, Mr Martin Teulan, has made public an email address (email@example.com) to which prayers of support may be forwarded for the people of Christchurch through Fr Paul Shanahan. (AP) (22/2/2011 Agenzia Fides)