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Daily Israel Report

New Zealand Quake Was '1 of 5000 Aftershocks'

The deadly earthquake that struck New Zealand this week was one of thousands, according to a sculptor whose family lives in the city.
By Chana Ya'ar
First Publish: 2/24/2011, 10:54 AM / Last Update: 2/24/2011, 11:22 AM

courtesy of Chabad.org

The deadly 6.3-magnitude earthquake that struck the city of Christchurch, New Zealand this week was one of thousands, according to a sculptor whose family lives in the city.

Writing on a stone sculptors' Internet listserve, Richard Musgrove said the earthquake was actually just another aftershock.

“They have had 5000, say that again...5000... 'aftershocks' in Christchurch since the big one in September,” Musgrove wrote. “Many of those [were] in the high 5's and several including this latest one in the 6's – a whole new earthquake, really, as it originated on a different fault.”

A 4.1-magnitude aftershock rattled the ruins of the city just after midnight on Wednesday.

The Richter scale, which rates the severity of an earthquake, is a logarithmic scale, “so a 5 is 32 times greater than a 4, and a 6 is one thousand times greater than a 4,” explained the artist. This week's earthquake, he wrote, “was so destructive because it was so shallow (5 kilometers / 3 miles below the surface - ed.) and so close to Christchurch.”

The general feeling of the population at this point, he said, “is best described as “gutted.” Musgrove added, “The aftershocks continue...”

Death Toll Still Rising
The death toll is still rising as rescue workers race the clock in their grim search for survivors. At least 98 people were killed and 226 others were listed as missing after the temblor struck the city Tuesday at 12:51 p.m. local time. 

More than 2,500 people were injured in the quake, including 164 admitted to hospital with serious injuries, and 431 others treated and released at the emergency room. Another 2,000 were seen for minor injuries at various medical centers around the city, according to a report by DPA.

Many victims were trapped in the rubble of crumbled buildings, but according to local media, no one has been rescued alive from the ruins since Wednesday.

Damage estimates could run as high as $12 billion, Prime Minister John Key said Thursday.

Israelis Feared Dead
It is feared that four Israelis may be among the dead, including 23-year-old Kibbutz Magal resident Ofer Mizrachi. The backpacker's friends reported that they saw him struck by a concrete beam crashing into a car in which he was a passenger, and were unable to extricate him.

In addition, the Chabad House in the center of the city was destroyed, according to Chabad-Lubavitch emissary Rabbi Samuel Freedman, though no one was hurt there.

It was estimated that approximately 120 Israelis were traveling or residing in the area when the quake struck, although most were not in the city itself, according to Israeli Consul to New Zealand, Teddy Poplinger.