When a New Zealand cliff collapsed into the ocean on Sunday after a powerful 5.7-magnitude earthquake, it was all caught on video. It is hard to believe that anyone could survive such a dangerous display of nature’s force. At the time 16 feet of the cliff near Taylor’s Mistake bay fell into the sea, five rookie members of the Taylor’s Mistake Surf Life Saving Club were right at the cliff doing some work and some cliff jumping.
When the New Zealand cliff collapsed, the young men were fortunately in a cave, which protected them from the enormous dirt and rocks that came down, reports Radio New Zealand News on February 14. Craig Jamison, who had been supervising the rookies shared the following:
“I’d taken five of my rookies to do some cliff work and some cliff jumping. When I look up I see three of them standing in the cave, and then a whole sheet of rock fell down over them.”
Amazingly, none of the rookies were seriously injured. According to geotechnical engineer Jan Kupec Linz, the collapse took away 16 feet ( 5 meters) of the cliff. The amount of dirt and rocks that fell into the ocean was massive and it was a miracle that no one got hurt.
Sunday’s 5.7-magnitude earthquake occurred just eight days before the five-year anniversary of the February 22, 2011, 6.3-magnitude earthquake in Christchurch. In 2011, 185 people lost their lives.
GeoNet reports that Sunday’s earthquake happened at a Latitude and Longitude of -43.50 and 172.83 (you can input the numbers into Google Maps), about 9 miles (15 kilometers) east of Christchurch at a depth of 15 kilometers. Unlike the 2011 earthquake, no one was seriously injured.
However, local residents and officials share their frightening experience:
“It really is a real set-back psychologically for the city,” said Mayor Lianne Dalziel. “Obviously with a 5.7 magnitude earthquake so close to the eastern coast of Christchurch, it’s certainly been a big shock for the city, a setback in terms of people’s confidence and feeling of security. It struck very sharply and very unexpectedly. I’ve kind of got used to hearing an earthquake coming but this came ‘bang’, without warning.”
“It was just that awful sound again, that rumble. It lasted a good 20 seconds, it was stuff falling of the shelves, people diving under their supermarket trolleys, and everyone just looking at each other going ‘no not again’,” said Christchurch City Council media manager Jocelyn Ritchie who was in the supermarket when the quake hit. Ritchie added that people were in tears and trying to contact family and friends but the phone systems appeared to be jammed.
“Everyone got a big fright, we had everyone running out,” said Jenny Krex, the manager of a coffee shop in the seaside suburb of Sumner adding that many items broke in her shop when the quake struck. “I made sure everyone was OK, it was quite a big shock. It’s crazy out here at the moment.”
A home video of a pool swapping over was shared on Twitter: “Home videos show pool water turning into waves as #ChristchurchEarthquake hits.”
Homeowners on Whitewash Head Road reported that the dust cloud that formed as the cliff collapsed made it “impossible to see for more than a few metres in front of them.” Homeowners are now left with the task of removing the dust from their cars and their homes.
GeoNet spokeswoman Caroline Little commented that Sunday’s earthquake was too small to cause a tsunami, but it left people’s nerves rattled: “People and animals are alarmed, and many run outside. Walking steadily is difficult … objects fall from walls and shelves.”
Since New Zealand is on the boundary of the Australian and Pacific tectonic plates, which form part of the so-called “Ring of Fire,” tremors and earthquakes are to be expected. However, the stunning display of nature’s force as the New Zealand cliff collapses left many in awe.