New Zealand hit by aftershocks after severe earthquake
Strong aftershocks have roiled New Zealand following a 7.5magnitude earthquake that killed two people.
The South Island has seen hundreds of tremors, including a 6.3magnitude quake, after the initial one struck after midnight yesterday.
The epicentre is northeast of Christchurch, near the town of Kaikoura which has been cut off by landslides.
A large river dammed up by a landslide also breached its banks, sending a “large wall of water” downstream.
Residents around the Clarence River - one of the largest on South Island - were being urged to move immediately to higher ground.
The aftershocks have left some communities without power and water, although authorities are slowly restoring supplies.
GeoNet, a government-funded project monitoring earthquakes, said the first earthquake was actually two related tremors, and that aftershocks would continue over the next few months.
Authorities have spent the night and day rescuing and evacuating residents along the east coast.
New Zealand media reported that a 100-year-old woman and her daughter-in-law were pulled out alive from their home in the town of Kaikoura, after the house collapsed in the first earthquake. The younger woman’s husband died.
A woman also died at Mount Lyford, southwest of Kaikoura, though there are reports she may have died from an existing medical condition.
Waves of around 2m hit the coast shortly after the first earthquake. Authorities have since lifted a tsunami alert, but are still warning people to stay away from the shoreline.
Residents in Christchurch and surrounding towns have rushed to stock up on basic supplies. Some schools in the affected area have remained closed yesterday.
Kaikoura, a popular tourist destination with a population of about 3,600, saw its main road blocked by landslides, with telecommunications, water and power supplies cut off.
The military and fire service have dispatched teams in helicopters and a navy ship to the town, and some people are being airlifted out.
Newshub shared a video of three cows left stranded on a tiny island after the surrounding earth collapsed from landslides near Kaikoura.
Prime Minister John Key told reporters that he believed the number of fatalities would remain low, while civil defence minister Gerry Brownlee said damage to infrastructure appeared to be the biggest problem.
One expert told TVNZ that the low number of fatalities may have been due to the fact that the first quake struck in the middle of the night.
“People were safe in their homes, homes might get damaged but they’re safer for the people inside,” said Ken Elwood from the University of Auckland.
The quake was also felt in Wellington on the North Island, where the city’s central business district (CBD) remained quiet on Monday as workers cleared debris and checked buildings.
Resident Adam Roland told the BBC: “The CBD’s been closed off so most people are either working from home or not working today.”
GeoNet said the first quake was the strongest to have hit New Zealand since a 7.8-magnitude earthquake in 2009 in a remote area of the South Island.
New Zealand lies on the Ring of Fire, the fault line that circles virtually the entire Pacific Rim bringing frequent quakes and volcanic eruptions.
Christchurch is still recovering from a 2011 earthquake that killed 185 people and destroyed the city centre.
Teenage magazine sparks anger over ‘victim-blaming’ rape advice
An advice columnist’s response to a letter about rape has sparked an angry backlash in Singapore and accusations of victim-blaming. In the letter to Teenage magazine’s agony aunt, the writer, apparently a teenage girl, said she was raped by a friend and had “no-one to turn to”. The Dear Kelly columnist said in reply that she had “acted like a girl who had been around” and should be “grateful he wore a condom”. It also added that she was too “naive”. The teenage girl recounted a series of events in which she had lied to her parents to stay over at a boy’s place unsupervised. She drank wine for the first time and had kissed and cuddled the boy before he started to undress her. She said she had had too much to drink and did not protest. She adds that she was unable to remember anything after, but found herself naked in bed the next morning beside him when he told her that he “didn’t know” she was a virgin. Kelly Chopard, the writer behind the column, said the victim had “acted like a girl who has been around”. “You gave the idea that everything was okay, you accepted wine, then there was the dancing, kissing,” she said in her column. “You can’t blame him for thinking a sexual connection was all right. Frankly, I understand why the guy misunderstood.” It added that the girl was “naive and inexperienced”, adding that she could “be grateful that he wore a condom so there is little fear of an unplanned pregnancy or STD”. Ms Chopard is known for her “tough love and no-nonsense advice”, according to Teenage magazine. While it is not known whether the letter, published last week, was genuine - nor whether the alleged rape was reported to police - the magazine’s response was widely condemned. “Can’t believe this backward, sexist and victim-blaming nonsense got published,” said one user on Facebook. “This is the reason why girls are afraid to report rape. This is the reason why men feel like they can get away with it,” said another user. “How dare you, as a writer who is supposed to provide guidance, send this kind of message?” “To think I used to love this magazine,” read another comment on Facebook. “This is disgusting.” The magazine, Singapore’s oldest youth publication, later responded with an official statement on Facebook, apologising and saying they did not mean to “lead to the impression that rape is acceptable”. Ms Chopard also responded with her own apology, put out by the magazine. She apologised, but denied blaming the victim.
‘Mike Pence’ gifts to abortion provider surge
Donations to US abortion provider Planned Parenthood in the name of Vice President-elect Mike Pence have surged. Donald Trump’s running mate, who has been a long-time opponent of Planned Parenthood, will be sent a gift certificate for every donation made. The campaign, aimed at embarrassing Mr Pence, began in 2011 when as an Indiana congressman he introduced several anti-abortion measures. They included the first bill to strip the provider of all federal funding. In March this year, as Indiana governor, Mr Pence signed an anti-abortion bill that is seen as one of the most restrictive in the US, barring abortion in Indiana on the basis of disability, gender or race of the foetus. Parts of that law were blocked by the courts, but not until after a social media backlash which saw women phoning or tweeting Mr Pence details about their menstrual cycles under the hash tag #periodsforpence. Mike Pence’s anti-abortion stance mirrors that of President-elect Trump, who wants to cut funding to Planned Parenthood, and who has in the past said women should be punished for undergoing an abortion if it were made illegal, though he later withdrew the statement. There had already been a significant rise in gifts to the country’s biggest abortion provider in the wake of Mr Trump’s election last week. But then over the weekend, many women went on social media to say they had made a donation in Mike Pence’s name.