New Zealand’s Christchurch remembers 2011 earthquake victims

Photo taken on Feb. 21, 2019 shows the remains of a church damaged by earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand. A ceremony was held on Friday in New Zealand's second largest city of Christchurch to mark the 8th anniversary of a devastating quake that claimed 185 lives spanning more than 20 nationalities, including 23 Chinese students. A 6.3-magnitude quake struck the city on Feb. 22, 2011, with a depth of only 4 km. Then-Prime Minister John Key described the disaster as "New Zealand's darkest day." (Xinhua/Guo Lei)

Christchurch, Christchurch city held a grand memorial ceremony on Saturday in the memory of the 185 victims who were killed in a massive earthquake earthquake that struck the New Zealand city in 2011.

A 6.3-magnitude quake jolted the city on February 22, 2011. Then-Prime Minister John Key described the disaster as “New Zealand’s darkest day”, reports Xinhua news agency.

At the ceremony on Saturday, Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel acknowledged families who travelled from other parts of the world to attend the memorial.

Dalziel thanked the first responders and bystanders at the time of the quake including police, firefighters, paramedic, nurses, all the NGOs, the student volunteer army, neighbours, families and friends that “generally offered so much.”

“Every gesture, no matter how large or small, has helped us on our journey,” she said.

Hundreds of people paid tributes in the Avon River area where many buildings were detroyed during the quakes.

At the ceremony, the names of the quake victims were read out by people of different nationalities.

International rescue teams arrived within 48 hours after quake.

The earthquake and aftershocks caused substantial destruction to Christchurch in 2011.

Statistics showed more than 1,200 commercial buildings were destroyed, and around 90 per cent of residential houses were damaged to varying degrees.

It is estimated that the total cost for Christchurch’s reconstruction exceeded NZ$40 billion ($27 billion), which equals approximately 10 per cent of New Zealand’s GDP.