Quake shocks Prince
PRINCE William expressed shock at the devastation in e a r t h q u a k e - h i t C h r i s t - church yesterday.
‘ ‘ It’s just so sad,’’ the Prince said as he surveyed the city centre, which was r a z e d i n l a s t m o n t h ’ s 6.3-magnitude tremor, adding, ‘‘ the scale of it is unbelievable’’.
William was confronted with the sight of office blocks and shops that collapsed when the February 22 quake killed about 180 people and flattened much of the city.
The trip to Christchurch, which has been rocked by constant aftershocks since the February 22 quake, was the first stop on a five-day tour of disaster-stricken areas of New Zealand and Australia.
St James’ Palace has described the trip as a way for the royals to show support for people in both countries struggling to recover from recent disasters.
Appearing relaxed and in good spirits after touching down at Christchurch airport, the Prince paused to hold an onlooker’s baby and smiled as one woman yelled out: ‘‘ Thank you so much for coming to Christchurch.’’
But t he mood became more s ombre when t he 28-year-old arrived in the city centre, the area worst
GESTURE: Prince William with members of the Urban Search and Rescue team in Christchurch hit in the disaster.
He was guided into Christchurch’s ‘‘ red zone’’, which is still closed to the public because of the danger from damaged buildings.
It was a stark contrast to the prince’s last visit to Christchurch, in 2005, during a rugby union tour by the British and Irish Lions.
In a cruel twist, Christchurch residents learned only a day before Prince William’s arrival that the city had been stripped of its matches f or t his year’s Rugby World Cup because the damage to the city is so extensive.
William toured civil defence headquarters, where emergency crews have been working around the clock to help Christchurch recover.
Lat e r , Will i a m v i s i t e d G r e y m o u t h w h e r e 2 9 miners died late last year when a gas explosion tore t hrough t he Pike River mine. He will represent Queen Elizabeth II at a memorial for earthquake victims i n Christchurch today before departing for Australia on Saturday. He will visit areas of Queensland and Victoria damaged in recent floods and cyclones.