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Church canceled in Christchurch, New Zealand, Saturday after massive earthquake

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US$1.4 billion in damage to area, but no injuries reported

September 07, 2010 | Christchurch, New Zealand | Pablo Lillo, South Pacific Record

A state of emergency remains in Christchurch September 7, as aftershocks as large as magnitude 5.4 continued to rumble through the region.

More than 100,000 homes were damaged after a magnitude 7.1 earthquake hit at 4:35 a.m. on Saturday morning, disrupting power, water and sewage services.

Most Seventh-day Adventist churches in and around Christchurch did not hold worship services that day, although reports have been received of at least one group meeting in their sanctuary.

Though few injuries were reported among the general population, estimates of property damage are approaching US$1.5 billion. Five out of every eight homes needs to be assessed by civil engineers.

The Ministry of Education has ordered all schools stay closed until September 13. Danny Carrasco, principal of Christchurch Adventist School, has been cleaning up the mess left from the earthquake. The school building didn't suffer any structural damage.

An estimated 15,000 earthquakes strike New Zealand, located in the "Ring of Fire" Pacific earthquake zone, annually, media reports said.

Since the weekend, Craig Gillis, president of the Adventist Church in South New Zealand has been engaging with emergency managers to identify and address the most pressing community needs. The Adventist Development and Relief Agency New Zealand -- in partnership with the church's South New Zealand Conference -- is encouraging church members and volunteers to support community-focused action, as some 300 people are currently housed in welfare shelters.

"I believe the toughest days are to come," Gillis said. "The redevelopment of infrastructure and people's homes and lives will be the most critical. We're asking church members to look to their own neighborhoods and communities to help those in need."

Barricades remain in place around the restricted access zones in the central city and in Kaiapoi. On the ground in Christchurch's Cranmer Square -- in the heart of the inner city but not completely cordoned off -- is as close as ADRA staff can get on foot to some of the most severe damage the earthquake has left in its wake.

ADRA NZ has committed $10,000 toward the recovery effort and is accepting donations to add to this amount. For more information, visit www.adra.co.nz.

--additional reporting by Adventist Review staff

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