DRC Case Study - 2011 Christchurch earthquake

On Tuesday 22 February 2011 at 12.51 p.m. Christchurch was badly damaged by a magnitude 6.3 earthquake, 10 kilometres south-east of Christchurch’s central business district.

The earthquake occurred more than five months after the 4 September 2010 earthquake, but is considered to be an aftershock of the earlier quake.

The earthquake brought down many buildings previously damaged in the September 2010 earthquake, especially older brick and mortar buildings. Many heritage buildings were heavily damaged, including the Provincial Council Chambers, Lyttelton’s Timeball Station, and both the Anglican Christchurch Cathedral and the Catholic Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament. Among the modern buildings damaged, and eventually demolished, was Christchurch’s tallest building, the Hotel Grand Chancellor. Over a quarter of the buildings in the central business district were demolished.

One hundred and eighty five people died as a result of the 22 February earthquake. It was lunchtime and many people were on the city streets. One hundred and fifteen died in the CTV building, 18 in the PGC building, 36 in the central city (including eight on buses), and 12 in the suburbs (including from falling rocks in the Redcliffs, Sumner and Port Hills). The Chief Coroner determined that another four deaths were directly associated with the earthquake.

DRC Case Study Learnings (using the 4 R's of Emergency Management):


– Secure any loose heavy items, especially electrical equipment. NZ standard: 4104 gives guidance on this.

– Ensure your building meets 2007 Building code compliance

– Know how to shut off your utilities (gas shut off valves, water mains, etc)

– Move desks away from earthquake hazards


– Have an earthquake response plan

– Practice earthquake drills

– Practice evacuation plan

– Have a grab bag ready

– Have a work continuity plan in place


– Drop, Cover, Hold

– Do not get up and move around until shaking stops

– Stay indoors if safe to do so

– Remain calm


– Treat injuries

– Stay away from damaged buildings

– Check staff welfare

– Listening to your radio

– Commence business continuity plan