‘Mud volcanoes’ now add to quake woes

2011-02-28 00:00

BATTERED Christchurch residents are now fighting the battle of the mud as they mop up after last week’s earthquake.

Former Witness employee Brian Gull, now living near Christchurch, said liquefaction, a seismic process by which sand or soil are turned into a muddy suspension, has caused a sticky, fine mud to ooze out of the ground by the ton, in layers up to half a metre thick. “This covers all the roads and surrounds the houses, and it stinks!” said Gull

Thousands of volunteers have descended on the city to shovel, grade and clean it up, said Gull. “Churches, youth groups, organisations small and large, are putting together all sorts of programmes and collections across the country. “Water is still a major problem for a huge number of people. The Army have brought in de-salinaters which are working around the clock, pumping from the sea, processing into tanks. It is immediately taken away for consumption. People are using everything they can to store it, buckets … tins, I even saw someone with a frying pan.”

Ablution is also a problem. Gull said there are still nowhere near enough Portaloos and thousands more will have to be brought in to cope with nature’s calls.

“Teams of rescuers have arrived from all corners of the earth. They are doing incredible work going into the smashed city looking for survivors.

“Sadly, there have been no more since Wednesday. However, they keep saying there is always hope. As they work in unbelievable conditions they continue to be shaken by aftershocks of at least three plus magnitude. To see how people are trying to support each other in this dire time of need is something that words simply cannot describe. Never let it be said that modern man has lost his humanity.”

Ruth Davey, also previously from Pietermaritzburg, said yesterday that Christchurch is a city of great contrasts right now. “On this side of town, near the airport, everything is so normal. People are out mowing their lawns, buying groceries in the local supermarket and just getting on with life as usual — except that we all know that just the other side of town people have suffered terrible loss.

“We went to visit a friend yesterday (Saturday) whose house has suffered from liquefaction.

“They are calling their street Beach Street now as this is the third time since September 4 that sand volcanoes have pushed up into their yards and covered everything with about half a metre of silt. — Supplied.

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