New Zealand Earthquake, Christchurch Botanic Gardens News
(A BBC News report of the earthquake is given here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-12533291)
Regarding Christchurch Botanic Garden, Alan Matchett (Director of Dunedin Botanic Garden, New Zealand) writes:
'I have spoken to colleagues at Christchurch Botanic Garden they have told me that staff and their families while obviously very distressed are reported to be safe however some of their houses have been damaged or destroyed depending on where they live in the city. The Garden has sustained damage to some buildings and monuments around the Garden, large cracks have appeared and some trees have fallen over as the ground has become saturated with water (liquification) and become jelly like and the roots have nothing solid to keep them upright.
'The first earthquake in September last year which was much bigger at 7.1 (but centered further away) weakened many buildings and had caused significant damage occurred early in the morning about 1.00am so there few people on the streets or in office buildings. Last Tuesday's earthquake was smaller at 6.3 but was centered much closer to the city and was very shallow at only 5km deep. So even though it was smaller in magnitude, the effects of the September earthquake, the time difference 12.50pm mid-day, the City was full of people going about their business and unfortunately many were caught totally unawares, injured, trapped and many killed. Its likely to be closer to 200 deaths once all the buildings have been searched and bodies identified.
'Interestingly the effects across the city vary widely, some areas have sustained little or no damage while in other areas its chaos. Unstable hillsides and rock slides have also caused casualities and evacuation in other areas.
'NZ is very much appreciative to all the world-wide support since the earthquake, there are several search and rescue teams here from Australia, Thailand, Japan, the UK, USA and China, also a large police contingent from Australia all doing what they can to assist.
'I would expect that John Clemens - Curator or Jeremy Hawker - Operations Manager will be able to provide a more accurate and informed account sometime later.'