The aftershock of the June 13 earthquakes in New Zealand produced significant liquefaction throughout Christchurch, devastating several suburbs again and resulting in additional settlement of many commercial buildings. Photo ©Thornton Tomasetti
Following two powerful aftershocks that hit New Zealand’s second largest city of Christchurch, Thornton Tomasetti’s Property Loss Consulting team is on the ground to assist clients with properties in the disaster zone.
In this most recent event, widespread damage has been reported in the city, but there are no initial reports of fatalities. A magnitude-5.6 tremor was centered near Sumner, while a second aftershock measuring 6.3 destroyed multiple buildings and injured several people.
• The dual quakes are the most powerful to hit since the 6.3-magnitude earthquake in February 2011, which resulted in 181 deaths, damaged 100,000 homes and ruined most of the city’s downtown area, now largely an off-limits red zone, accessible only to emergency personnel, authorized engineers and a handful of others.
• The recent tremors forced the evacuation of shopping centers, office blocks and the Christchurch airport. Quake-weary Christchurch residents have been warned that the worst isn’t over yet as experts expect aftershocks in the coming months.
• Thornton Tomasetti first bolstered its presence in Christchurch in 2010 when a 7.1-magnitude September 2010 earthquake hit the city. While not as strong, the 6.3-magnitude February 2011 quake resulted in more damage, especially to the central business district. It is considered the second deadliest disaster in the country’s history, with damage estimated to cost insurers NZ$16 billion, according to the New Zealand Treasury.
• Thornton Tomasetti engineers have been conducting damage assessments of a wide range of structures across the region to develop and review the scope of required repairs as well as demolition and reconstruction options. We are currently assisting insurance clients with damage assessments on many large commercial buildings in Christchurch’s central business district and working directly with building owners at multiple properties.
• At present, Thornton Tomasetti has 10 to 15 engineers on the ground. Given the pace of new project work, we expect to be in Christchurch for at least a year, likely longer.
“Our team was on the scene within minutes of the first aftershock,” said Sam Cooper, Senior Associate. “We were able to access the red zone and perform an initial inspection of a damaged hotel as well as a 17-story office building. We expect to make even more progress in the coming days.”
About Thornton Tomasetti (www.ThorntonTomasetti.com)
Thornton Tomasetti is a leader in engineering design, investigation and analysis serving clients worldwide on projects of all sizes and complexity. With practices in building structure, building skin, building performance, construction support services and property loss consulting, Thornton Tomasetti addresses the full life cycle of a structure. We have supported clients working in more than 40 countries, with projects that include the tallest buildings and longest spans to the restoration of prized historic properties. Founded in 1956, today Thornton Tomasetti is a 550-person organization of engineers and architects collaborating from offices across the United States and in Asia-Pacific, Europe and the Middle East.
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