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Update - Day 3

It is now the third day into the Canterbury Earthquake crisis.

Only now are we beginning to grasp the full extent of the damage and trauma Cantabrians face.

So far there have been 15,000 insurance claims on damages, and a full 50% of the homes in Canterbury have been damaged in some way.

As I watch the news, my heart goes out to those whose homes have been totally demolished, or condemned. Homes, old and new, some worth a million dollars or more per house, all gone in the blink of an eye. Some have no electricity, no toilet facilities, no running water.

Stories have cropped up today of so many close calls, of bricks falling down exactly where there people's heads had been just moments before, some of people suddenly falling into silt and quicksand, but managing to to escape.

Many were in tears as the news crews interviewed them, voices shaking, still reeling from the shock at the events that had transpired over the past three days.

Even my fellow Malaysians here were not spared, though this only applied to a few families. One Malaysian postgrad jumped through the window and cut his leg. Others report of broken TVs and other household items. One undergrad went hysterical and called home, totally blowing things out of proportion. In his/her (I'm not sure) call it was mentioned that they were stranded, cut off, with no food and water... Bollocks... that undergrad made a lot of trouble for the MSD here. The parent pulled strings high up in the Ministry. They got the impression that MSD was not doing its duty here. Calls were made. Trouble was brewed.And when Dr Rosli, the MSD director came over from Wellington to inspect the situation, he saw nothing of the sort, except for frightened students who just wanted to go back to their mothers.

However, I must concede that it was almost a miracle that no one was killed. A 7.1 magnitude quake. Buildings collapsing. Deadly combination. But total disaster managed to be averted due to a few factors. First, the quake happened in the wee hours of the morning, when everyone was at home sleeping. It it had happened during the day, the death toll would have been considerable. Second, because of the sparsity of the population, houses here are spaced widely between each other. People are spaced widely between each other as compared to the quakes in Indonesia, where if you throw a stick up in the air, it is bound to hit an Indonesian. Also, due to this, there is less need for high-rise buildings. Most houses here are single-story houses. And lastly, Kiwi workmanship is good.

As for me, I am just thankful that the area where I live did not suffer too much damage. In fact, we got off relatively scot free.

It's just the periodic rumbling and shaking that unnerves me, even after three days.


Cat-in-Sydney said…
My Mama had experienced earthquake in Indonesia, couple of months after the tsunami. It was midnight and she was in bed in a hotel in Aceh. Felt like she was sleeping in a boat, she said. But the locals panic and ran to the hills. Must be traumatic to have another earthquake soon after the tsunami. Syukur that your area has been spared. As for that panic-stricken undergrad, a spanking would do her/him good. Nothing compared to what we've seen in Aceh. What a way to celebrate your first Eid in Christchurch, eh? I hope the family is not worried too much. purrr....meow!
Jordan said…
Not just the workmanship, but also the strict standards, building codes, etc. That same quake in Malaysia, even in the middle of the night, would have killed lots of people (of course, it wouldn't help that in the middle of the night Malaysians are out eating; most of the deaths would occur at mamak shops haha).
Abdullah said…
Cat - I wonder what ur mama was doing in a quake-stricken place so soon after the tsunami.. :)
But it must have been one hell of an experience eh?

Jordan - Too true bro... An earthquake at any time, day or night, in Malaysia would be catastrophic!

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The End

I am in a hotel room.

It is unclear who else is in the room. It must be my family. But I am uncertain. I know I am in the room with people I love.

The hotel room is in a building that towers above ground level, and we can see all the houses below.

I am in Hawaii I think. How I know that I do not know. All I know is that we are beside the ocean.

I feel unsettled as I look out the window. Something is compelling me to look outside the window. It is getting dark. But I know by right it should not be dark. It is midday. And then I see it.

In front of me a huge storm cloud is gathering. But I start to quiver because it looks like no ordinary storm. The clouds are pitch black. Black as death. My eyes follow their shape to where they originate. I gasp.

I see a gigantic water spout, a tornado in the ocean, funnelling its energy to the black cloud. The water spout is also pitch black. Rain now pours uncontrollably. It is a hurricane at its full blast, but not just that. It is much, much more.

Aku, Bini dan Ginger Beer

Aku haus...

Tekakku yang kering ini menginginkan rasanya yang menenangkan jiwa itu...

Perasaannya apabila ku menggenggam botol kacanya yang sejuk dan berwap-wap dan mengangkatnya keluar peti ais kecilku, perasaannya seperti seorang kanak-kanak Taman Keramat memegang aiskrim Malaysia 10sen pada hari yang panas membara...

Riang... Nikmat... Penantian yang menyiksakan, tetapi penantian yang lazat...

Dengan pergerakan yang perlahan seperti 'slow-motion' dalam sinetron Indonesia kegemaran surirumah-surirumah di Malaysia, muncung botol Ginger Beer kegemaranku mampir bibirku yang terketar-ketar sedikit, sehinggalah aku dapat rasa cecair yang sejuk membasahi tekakku...


Sedap tidak terperi...

Aku menghulurkan kepada biniku, dan dia juga meneguk kenikmatan...

Aku menadah tangan meminta kembali Ginger Beer kesayanganku yang berjenama Bundaberg buatan New Zealand.

Saat itu tidak tiba-tiba...

Aku tertanya-tanya... Mata terkebil-kebil...

"Ni saya punya ya Bang..." ujar …