Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

FOCUS

Republicans block Obama's bid to hike minimum wage

Read more

WEB NEWS

Calls for ISIS media blackout after execution of James Foley

Read more

WEB NEWS

Web users divided over Darren Wilson

Read more

WEB NEWS

Web users take on 'Ice Bucket Challenge' to fight ALS

Read more

ENCORE!

From Paris's Liberation to 'arresting' art in Avignon

Read more

INSIDE THE AMERICAS

Ferguson riots: Pressure mounts on Obama

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

'The pen is mightier than the sword'

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

'Requiem for a recorder'

Read more

DEBATE

Pakistan's Political Turmoil: Can Imran Khan's PTI Party Depose the Government?

Read more

  • Two US Ebola patients leave hospital ‘virus-free’

    Read more

  • Turkey’s Erdogan names foreign minister Davutoglu as next PM

    Read more

  • US reaches historic $16.7bn settlement with Bank of America

    Read more

  • Special report: Supplying Ukraine’s soldiers on the front line

    Read more

  • US forces tried to rescue slain reporter from IS captors

    Read more

  • Israeli air strike kills three top Hamas commanders

    Read more

  • France delivered arms to Syrian rebels, Hollande confirms

    Read more

  • Tensions high in Yemen as Shiite rebel deadline looms

    Read more

  • Interactive: Relive the Liberation of Paris in WWII

    Read more

  • French village rallies behind besieged elderly British couple

    Read more

  • Former Irish PM Albert Reynolds dies at 81

    Read more

  • Former Femen activist detained after fighting veiled woman

    Read more

  • Thailand coup leader Prayuth Chan-ocha voted prime minister

    Read more

  • Brazil’s Silva launches bid after Campos plane crash death

    Read more

  • Brutal IS beheading video sparks social media pushback

    Read more

  • US attorney general visits Missouri town after fatal shooting

    Read more

Asia-pacific

Christchurch mourns quake victims

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2011-02-27

People gathered in New Zealand's city of Christchurch on Sunday for a service to mourn the victims of this week's devastating earthquake. The death toll from the natural disaster has been flagged at 147, with more than 50 people unaccounted for.

AFP - The grief was palpable as sombre Christchurch residents arrived Sunday in small groups at a hastily arranged outdoor church service in their earthquake-devastated city.

There were tears and hugs as people greeted each other and slowly made their way across a suburban park to where Anglican priest David Moore was waiting.

"The sheer scale of death is very difficult to fathom," said Moore shaking his head.

Standing beside him at St. Alban's Park, near a barricade cordoning off the New Zealand city's shattered downtown area, the Dean of Christchurch, Peter Beck, offered people a comforting embrace.

"We share a common bond this day -- there is a deep, deep sense of grief," Beck said.

People arrived with camp stools and blankets to sit on, two had their dogs and three were in wheelchairs. One woman who lives near the park invited everyone back to her home for morning tea afterwards.

There were similar scenes across the city as thousands of people attended church services to mourn for those lost in Tuesday's destructive 6.3-magnitude earthquake, which flattened parts of New Zealand's second largest city.

Many of the services were held outdoors because a large number of churches, including the city's iconic Christ Church Cathedral, now lie in ruins.

In suburban St. Albans, Moore organised a communion service for congregations from three inner-city Anglican churches, two of which were destroyed and the other inaccessible behind security cordons.

"We gather in very difficult times. Everybody knows someone who is painfully affected by what has happened," Moore told the gathering as the death toll rose to 147 with more than 50 still unaccounted for.

On any normal Sunday the three churches would expect a combined congregation of nearly 700, but with telephone communications down, only about 50 made it after learning of the time and venue by word of mouth.

"The people who could make it have come from all over the city," said priest David Williams.

"But most would have stayed home because it is so difficult to drive across the city."

It could have been any autumn day in Christchurch, with the sun shining and children playing in the park, but the faces of those at the church service told of the tragedy that has hit the city.

Ian Lothian rode his motorcycle 15 kilometers (10 miles) to reach the service, saying he felt the need to be there.

At the opposite end of the city centre cordon, on the lawn of the Christchurch South Library, at least 100 people attended a multi-denominational service.

"We wouldn't go to church normally but we needed to come and share our story today. It is better than sitting alone crying and togetherness is good for the spirit," said Kendra Street.

Jennifer Hamilton, who usually attends the Roman Catholic Holy Cross Chapel that is now a heap of rubble, said she was driving past the library when she saw the gathered congregation and decided to join in.

"I felt the need to get together with people and worship," she said.

The strain on the people was evident as they struggled to make sense of the destruction, which came just six months after a 7.0 earthquake severely damaged the city.

"Today, throughout the city, small groups of Christians and other faiths have gathered," Beck said.

"We can replace buildings but we can't replace lives and the focus now must be on people's lives."

Beck, who has been a stoic figurehead in the city as he counselled those faced with the grim task of recovering mangled bodies and tended to others in need, revealed the emotional effort had finally taken its toll.

"This morning I wept for the first time," he said.
 

Date created : 2011-02-26

  • NEW ZEALAND

    Quake toll rises, hopes fade

    Read more

  • NEW ZEALAND

    Christchurch death toll rises after devastating quake

    Read more

  • NEW ZEALAND

    Dozens killed as earthquake hits Christchurch

    Read more

COMMENT(S)