Friday, May 1

Living Through an Earthquake

It is difficult reading all about the earthquake in Nepal!  So horrific is the loss of life and the loss of homes, buildings, schools and the knowledge that it will be years before the country is able to return to "normal".  So many thousands without homes and jobs, it is hard to imagine.

Luckily I have not had to live through an event as horrific as that but I have experienced an earthquake.

At the time, the 1954 earthquake in Adelaide, South Australia  was Australia's most destructive until 1989 when the Newcastle, Queensland earthquake caused major damage in that city.

In 1954 I can recall waking in the early hours of the morning with everything banging on the walls.  A picture in a frame banged and everything shook.  I have a memory of my parents taking us outside to the front lawn - though probably by the time we got there, it was all over. The centre of the earthquake was quite nearby at the suburb of Darlington.

The next time was a rather strange experience - during my first term as a teacher in China.  It was May 7th, 2009.  As it turned out, I was probably on a bus when the earthquake hit - I know I was in town and did not experience any shaking. Despite the fact that Shaoxing was many miles from the centre of the earthquake in Sichuan, the buildings around Shaoxing shook - especially the high-rise buildings.  I was completely unaware of it all.   When I returned to the campus I probably went to my room, and it was not until early the next morning that I learned about it.  By then I was fielding phone calls and messages from concerned family in Australia, and I was quite mystified until I was able to learn about it on the news on an English speaking television channel.  OMG!

The loss of life was enormous, with over 69,000 people killed and over 18,000 missing.

Students on the campus were in shock, crying and distressed, but still swung into action.  A Blood Bank van turned up on the campus and thousands of students gave blood.  There were fund raising events that went on for many weeks too.  

There's not much one can do - usually by the time one realises that they are in the midst of an earthquake it is all over, but in these countries where the building standards are not very high, the buildings will crumble and fall down, causing death or injury to anyone inside.  Hiding under a bed, or table is the best one can do, but if the whole building falls in, there's nothing that one can do.  May, with more luck, rescue teams can be the saviour!  It is good to hear that days after such a 'quake people are still being pulled alive from the rubble.

We are fortunate that in Australia we have few of these events.




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