OCEANIA/NEW ZEALAND - Two minutes of silence for the earthquake victims ; thousands of people still in grave difficulty

Friday, 4 March 2011

Sydney (Agenzia Fides) – At exactly 12.51 on Wednesday, 2 March, all the cities in New Zealand stopped for two minutes of silence in memory of all those, last week, who lost their lives in the terrible earthquake which devastated Christchurch, the second largest city in the Country. The toll of victims has risen to 154 deaths and another 100 missing. The Archdiocese of Sydney makes this statement in a note to Fides from Sister Eleanor Capper, RSJ, adding that the residents of the stricken city are experiencing serious difficulties: over 10,000 houses were completely destroyed and at least another 100,000 severely damaged. Thousands of people are without electricity, sewage or drinking water. Hundreds of people are living in Red Cross shelters because they have no homes and nowhere to go. “We live day by day,” says Sister Eleanor, “the city is in chaos, the supermarkets closed. Winter is approaching and thousands of people have no shelter. In addition to the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament many churches are severely damaged, including the centuries-old church in New Brighton and St Mary's of the Marist Fathers. In the last week 50,000 of the 370,000 residents of Christchurch took flights to the north, to escape the chaos and confusion of the city, and some 50,000 departed by land. There are still many areas where there are no hygiene facilities and schools cannot reopen. Catholic Social Services and Catholic youth groups are working to bring help to all who have been traumatised.” (AP) (4/3/2011 Agenzia Fides)