Sunday, September 12, 2010

Story from the Earthquake Zone

It was Saturday morning at 4.35am. I was half awake, since the beginning of Ramadan, it has been my almost daily routine to wake up early at least half an hour before dawn. Normally I would wake at that time, to eat my breakfast before dawn, sahur and then perform solat tahajud before fajr or after dawn prayer. That morning was a bit different; I was contemplating of getting another wink of sleep.
Then the shaking start, and I knew then it was earthquake. I thought it was just a small one, but it goes on and on for almost a minute, the house swayed, and the swing of the pendulum, if you put pendulum on a string, getting longer. The light bulb above the bed swayed violently, and my wife yell earthquake and starts finding her way to the kitchen. The children also got up; they cowered under the bed for safety. We walked in the dark to the kitchen during the earthquake, my wife insisted on protecting her crystals and china in the display cabinet in the lounge. By the time we made our way to the lounge, the crystals and china were falling from the shelves...and then it stops.
We turned on the light, plates, glasses were all over the floor, broken. Our TV was face down on the floor too. I turned on the kettle to make tea and breakfast. Fifteen minutes later the light was out. Then there is an aftershock, another earthquake, strong enough but not as big as the first one. We told the children to go back to sleep. No point staying awake, we are not badly affected and our house is still standing in one piece.
People in our neighbourhood start to get out of their houses and start their cars, some were driving around surveying the damages and came back. A few walked around in our street. I sent a sms to Husin, and called Kak Julie checking if they are okay. Alhamdulillah they are okay. Husin sent a sms saying that he tried to call me but couldn’t get through. After fajr prayer, I went back to sleep.
Sulaiman, a friend from Malaysia who arrived the previous night were staying at a motel in Riccarton. I rang him up that morning and he was okay, he told me that was a surreal experience. He said that he drove around the city that early morning, and told me that a few old buildings have collapsed. One new building near Victoria Square has visible crack on it.
We got our electricity back about 10am, and sent a message to my sister telling her that about the earthquake and we were okay. Then we found out it was a 7.1 earthquake on the Richter scale.

Our water was still cut off until after 1pm, and that late morning I got on my bike and went to the city. Most part of the city was blocked off. Central business district was cordoned off, the police were guarding at every intersection. I cycled around and took some pictures, which I posted on facebook.
That night I went to tarawih prayer with Sulaiman at Masjid An Nur, we were reminded that Allah has the power of over our lives, that we were on the jaws of death less than 24 hour ago.
The aftershock kept on coming. There was another big one that Monday morning, registering at 5.4, but life has to go on as usual. Snippets of reports from delivery drivers that I met range from the closure of Lyttelton Tunnel, Westfield Mall Riccarton and pungent smell of sulphur around Lyttelton.
What worries me is that recent epicentres of the earthquake are closer to Lyttelton Harbour. We all know that Lyttelton Harbour is an extinct volcano. We also know that New Zealand was formed by the meeting of Pacific Plate and Indo-Australian Plate, where the boundaries make up the Southern Alps in the South Island. What if these recent earthquake activity open up old fissures that was an extinct volcano Lyttelton Harbour and its sister Akaroa Harbour? I read this Tectonic Plates theory in Geology class more than 20 years ago. Little did I know that it is written in the Quran. Thanks to Uztadz Asraff Ayob ( in his article about the earthquake.

And you see the mountains, thinking them rigid, while they will pass as the passing of clouds. [It is] the work of Allah, who perfected all things. Indeed, He is Acquainted with that which you do.
Muhsin Khan
And you will see the mountains and think them solid, but they shall pass away as the passing away of the clouds. The Work of Allah, Who perfected all things, verily! He is Well-Acquainted with what you do.

On Wednesday I was invited to attend a function at CIC Lincoln Road. Datuk Hasnudin Hamzah, the Malaysian High Commissioner to New Zealand, and Mark Stewart, Honorary Malaysian Consul in Christchurch was there answering questions from those who attended. What shocked me was the level of trauma among Christchurch Malaysian community.
I went home after the first two questions. I was disappointed and embarrassed at the same time