22 feared dead in earthquake cathedral collapse: The Church of England Newspaper, March 4, 2011 p 9. March 8, 2011Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Aotearoa New Zealand & Polynesia, Church of England Newspaper, Disaster Relief.
First published in The Church of England Newspaper.
Over 240 people are feared dead, and over 100 people are missing in the aftermath of the Feb 21 earthquake that struck Christchurch, New Zealand.
Twenty two people are believed to have died in the city’s Anglican cathedral when its spire collapsed, and over 50 bodies have been recovered from the ruins of the six-story Canterbury Television building, which housed an English language school for foreign students.
A majority of the buildings in the city’s central commercial district have been damaged and over 2,500 people have been reported injured in the quake, and more than 160 of them in serious condition.
Damage to the churches of the Diocese of Christchurch has been severe, with 26 parishes reported as being in “a bad way.” The rubble at the base of the cathedral’s spire was over 30 meters deep, rescue workers report, and progress in removing bodies from the “broken heart” of Christchurch has been slowed by aftershocks.
Dean Peter Beck told Radio New Zealand the rescue teams were working to ensure the “graceful removal” of the dead.
“They are working in the broken heart of Christchurch. That’s why we are concerned that such great care is taken with this bodies being recovered.”
Most of the dead in the cathedral were tourists, the dean said. “The whole enormity of it all still hasn’t hit me but I think I am due for a bloody good cry.”
On Feb 27 Bishop Victoria Matthews of Christchurch and New Zealand Archbishop David Moxon released a statement noting that while the damage was severe, “the Church of God is strong in faith and service in the Diocese of Christchurch.”
“The people of God are responding with courage and resolve to the present state of emergency caused by the recent earthquake and aftershocks. Although debris and wreckage are in evidence on every street and both the army and emergency services are a constant presence, courtesy and consideration prevail,” the bishops said.
They offered their condolences to those affected by the quake, offering “prayer in the power of the Holy Spirit, knowing that suffering has always been part of Christian experience. We also ask prayer for all those involved in the cleanup, the search and rescue operations and pastoral care at this difficult time. While we have been reminded in no uncertain terms that we are not in control, we hold fast to our faith in the Sovereign God and pray for the strength and grace to minister Christ’s presence,” the bishops said.