Asia-Pacific

New Zealand quake: Your memories

Some 181 people were killed when a 6.3 magnitude quake hit the centre of Christchurch in New Zealand on 22 February.

The earthquake left thousands homeless and was the country's worst natural disaster in 80 years.

Ten months on two BBC News website readers describe how their lives has been changed by the catastrophe.

Carolyn Sewell, Woodend, New Zealand

Image caption Carolyn with her husband and two children

Months after the huge quake people are still busy gathering their lives together. Resilience is high but trauma is widespread.

We have not been allowed to return to our neighbourhood, which is now coated in layers of sludge. Our house is located in the red-zone. An area of land which has been deemed too damaged to build on or repair.

Our home, now condemned and uninhabitable, will be demolished soon. Many of the houses in Christchurch bear the hallmarks of the earthquake - cracked walls, broken windows, unstable foundations and worse.

Families hardest hit by the catastrophe have fled the area. We moved 30 kilometres (19 miles) away.

Already worn down by the psychological effects of the disaster, my family faces other, more immediate challenges. Thousands of people were displaced and left homeless.

We lost our home. The insurers have not raced to help us and we are battling for compensation.

The impact on my family has been immense. We had to endure months without a toilet. We can't afford to return home to England, having invested almost ten years here so we have been forced to find temporary rented accommodation.

It's not ideal. In a month we hope to build a new home on a site called Pegasus Town where the land has been made very safe. We are drawing up plans at the moment.

My daughter's school has not been reopened and she's taking her final exams this week. Their high school building was declared unsafe. An alternative site was eventually found.

Image caption Tremors left gaping cracks in roads

Students from her college now share a campus with another high school, operating in two shifts. She goes to school in the afternoon and finishes late into the evening. She's coped remarkably well with the disruption.

My son is especially vulnerable. He's spoken of his fear about further tremors and of missing friends.

The flurry of media interest in our plight has tapered off. The international media has moved on. We haven't been able to move on quite yet. Christchurch has been decimated.

Amid the chaos of the quake which killed some 181 people, miraculously we survived. We are still in shock and our grief and sense of loss and guilt is intense. Each time we hear a loud noise or feel a jolt my husband and I tense up. I'm receiving counselling.

People have lost loved ones, their homes, their businesses and their jobs.

Our community has lost important landmarks, buildings, sports facilities and our centre of worship - the cathedral.

People are struggling to come to terms with life after the quakes. Tourism has been badly affected. Life in our community will never be the same again.

Simon Cobb, Fendalton, New Zealand

Image caption "My family has been grappling with the fear of aftershocks"

Christchurch is a city divided along many lines, economic as well as social. You only need to travel between the eastern and western suburbs to understand the impact of this disaster.

We live in Fendalton, an affluent neighbourhood in the west. It was left unscathed. The same cannot be said of suburbs in the east which were hardest hit.

The quake destroyed and damaged homes and roads. Hundreds of households had no access to water or electricity. Many residents were forced to live in makeshift temporary shelters.

My wife's parents lost their home. We invited them to move in with us. It was a practical idea. They had lost many irreplaceable possessions.

In the beginning it was difficult to adjust to our new living arrangements. Being in close proximity to my in-laws and dealing with everyone's different habits was a challenge.

However, our new living arrangements actually strengthened our relationship. We became closer as a family.

My in-laws home, an old heritage building converted into apartments, is still badly damaged. Ten months after the quake they are still grappling with insurance claims and sorting out their finances.

The earthquake has left everyone in limbo.

Every building in the city will need to be inspected for damage. It's a huge undertaking. The demolition and rebuilding process is painfully slow.

Getting anyone to insure property at the moment is almost impossible and without insurance high street banks will not lend.

Image caption Simon Cobb's in-laws lived in Cranmer Court, an old heritage building, before February's earthquake

So the property market in Christchurch has ground to a halt, at a time when thousands of people are looking to move from houses that have been destroyed in earlier earthquakes.

My family has been grappling with the fear of aftershocks. Moderate earthquakes still give us a jolt. Our concerns have been tempered by our children, who thankfully live away from home and are studying at university.

We have ruled out leaving. It would be unimaginable. My wife has strong ties to New Zealand. Her entire family is here. We have good jobs and it would be impractical to abandon them.

Over the last ten months we have seen scores of people flee the area, never to return. My job entails managing a team of 20 people.

My manager held a meeting recently warning senior staff about junior employees leaving. I think the recent tremor could lead to more resignations in the new year.

Interviews by Elisabeth Ukanah

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