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Big Earthquake in New Zealand

16 September 2010

“Zero Deaths” is the result of how many years’ efforts? - How do 4 million New Zealanders view the “miracle” in the eyes of 1.3 billion Chinese?

Extracts from an article by Peng Liguo in the Southern China newspaper the Southern Weekend (Nanfang Zhoumo), 16 September 2010 – along with the full Chinese version.

Newspaper article

Click here for full scanned Newspaper item (pdf 1,675 kb)

“The earthquakes don’t kill people. Awful buildings do.” “It is true that the outcome in New Zealand was no surprise.” As an earthquake engineer who does not have any religious beliefs, Chairman to Risk Solutions International (RSI) Peter Yanev explained the “miracle” from his perspective: “If my memory serves correctly, most New Zealanders live in light wooden structural houses that can withstand intensive earthquakes, just as we do here in California.” Will you be safe in your own little wooden house when an earthquake strikes? Undoubtedly, this conclusion almost embarrasses all scientific emergency measures.

The Mayor of Gisborne, Meng Foon, a Chinese descendant, said to Southern Weekend reporter, “This earthquake proved once again that the new building code is reliable. The reason is very simple: it can save the people’s lives.”

This miracle would not have happened without professional engineers observing the Building Act. For Buchanan, the zero death toll in Christchurch earthquake was “an ode to professional engineers”. Peter Yanev praised highly his Kiwi colleagues: “New Zealand has the most brilliant earthquake engineering experts in the world. Their performance is particularly remarkable considering the general population. Many top earthquake engineers in California have migrated from New Zealand in the past fifty years. Thanks to their help, California has become safer.”

New Zealand earthquake engineers well deserve such praise. “New Zealand is the first country that designed a reinforced concrete building so that it would not fall in an earthquake. This seismic scheme called ‘Capacity Design’ has been used worldwide. New Zealand is also the first country that developed and applied a seismic isolation system. This technology can put a building on special base isolating bearings to avoid structural destruction,” said Andrew Charleson, an expert on buildings from the University of Victoria, Wellington.

There are far more facts to list. Well-known inventions in the global earthquake engineering community including “ductility design” and “lead-rubber base-isolating bearing” are all invented by New Zealand earthquake engineers.

Click here for Cantonese Language version (pdf 300 kb)


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