Friday, September 03, 2010

Massive Earthquake hits South Island




A massive earthquake has hit Aotearoa, measuring 7.4 on the Richter Scale, and happened 30 kms west of Chirstchurch. Buildings have been destroyed; rail, electricity and telecommunications networks are down. Power is out to most of Christchurch and the central city has been closed down by police because of the amount of rubble in the CBD. People are on the streets in a state of shock- it has yet to be reported if there are any fatalities.

As in Haiti, earthquakes inordinately affect the poorest members of society.

from Marginal Notes-


Earthquakes are natural developments, but vulnerability to them is richly anthropogenic (“man made”) and is not spread evenly across the fractured and intersecting global landscapes of race, class, and empire.
As Mike Davis pointed out in his 2006 book Planet of Slums, a chilling expose of the atrocious living (and dying) conditions that US.-led neoliberal capitalism has imposed on the ever more mega-urbanized poor of the global South: ”Even more than landslides and floods, earthquakes make precise audits of the urban housing crisis…seismic destruction usually maps with uncanny accuracy to poor-quality brick, mud, or concrete residential housing...Seismic hazard is the fine print in the devil’s bargain of informal housing…”

Geographer Kenneth Hewitt invented the word 'classquake' after the 1976 earthquake in Guatemala that cost the lives of 23,000 people, most of whom were poor and in substandard housing. As reports come in from Christchurch, it will be apparent who has been hit hardest by this disaster.

We've just seen a $1.7 billion bailout of South Canterbury Finance.
This money must now be redirected to bailing out the people of Chirstchurch hit by this real physical disaster.

Our hearts go out to the people of Christchurch and the South Island, and the workers movement will hold John Key's government accountable for their response in the days to come.

Joe Carolan,
for SocialistAotearoa.org

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