Learning from Earthquakes: First person reports


Post-quake Inspections Mislead Building Occupants in Christchurch, New Zealand

October 11, 2011 by
Filed under EERI Team Field Blog, Social Impacts

The Canterbury Television building was subjected the 7.0 magnitude earthquake near Christchurch, New Zealand in September 2010. The following magnitude 6.1 earthquake in February 2011 caused the building to collapse and resulted in the deaths of 115 people. An earthquake reconnaissance team inspected the building after the earthquake and marked it with a green sticker. They were using the rapid assessment system which originated in California and has been commonly used since the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake in the San Francisco Bay Area. While the inspection system aims to determine if people are banned from the building (red), can gain limited access (yellow), or can continue to occupy the building (green), it is the owner’s responsibility to get a more in-depth and complete inspection. The father of the system, structural engineer Ron Gallagher, is writing a report on the lessons learned from Christchurch and hopes that, in the future, the system will educate building owners and occupants on the meaning of the colored tags and the necessary steps to be taken afterwards.

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