New Zealand marks 10th anniversary of Christchurch earthquake


New Zealand lowered its flags on Monday and made special note of those who could not travel as it marked the 10th anniversary of the Christchurch earthquake that killed 185 people.

Hundreds of people attended an outdoor service in Christchurch, which continues to rebuild from the magnitude 6.3 quake that destroyed much of the city’s downtown area.

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Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said it was important to remember that 87 of the victims were foreigners and many of their families could not attend due to coronavirus travel restrictions.

“Our flags fly at half-mast for them today too,” she said.

A scene in downtown Christchurch after the quake (Mark Baker/AP)

Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel talked about the 28 Japanese citizens who died, the largest number of victims from any country outside of New Zealand.

“I especially wanted to mention all the Japanese family members who I last year met in Japan and who so wanted to be here,” she said.

“We are forever connected by this tragedy and we do not forget you even when we are apart. You are with us in spirit.”

Another who spoke at the service was Maan Alkaisi, a university professor who has spent years trying to compel authorities to press criminal charges against those who designed the CTV building which collapsed during the quake, killing 115 people including his wife, Maysoon Abbas.

Murray and Kelly James survey their ruined house after the quake (Mark Baker/AP)

A review after the quake found the building’s design was flawed and it should never have been approved.

“Today commemorates 10 years of injustice and mistreatment,” Mr Alkaisi said.

“Today reminds us of our responsibility to make sure we learn from this tragic experience and honour those lovely people we lost by ensuring their dreams are kept alive, by ensuring this will not happen again.”

The memorial service was held on the banks of the Avon River, and a moment’s silence was observed at 12.51pm, the time the quake struck. Emergency service workers and others took turns reading out the names of each of the victims.

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