Napier earthquake

From Academic Kids

The Napier earthquake occurred at 10.47 AM on Tuesday February 3, 1931. The Hawke's Bay region of New Zealand was devastated by the massive earthquake. Centred near Napier it lasted two and a half minutes and was estimated to have measured about 7.9 on the Richter scale.

Nearly all buildings in the central area were levelled and 162 people in the town were killed, as well as 96 in other parts of Hawke's Bay. The local landscape changed dramatically, with the coastal areas around Napier being lifted by around two metres. Some 40 km² of sea-bed became dry land, where the airport, housing and industrial property developments now exist.

The death toll might have been much higher had the Royal Navy ship "Veronica" not been in port at the time. The Veronica's radio was used to transmit news of the disaster to the outside world and to seek assistance. The sailors joined survivors to fight the fires, rescue trapped people and help give them medical treatment.

The earthquake prompted a thorough review of New Zealand building codes, which were found to be totally inadequate. Many buildings built during the 1930s and 1940s are heavily reinforced, although more recent research has developed other strengthening techniques. To this day there are few buildings in Hawke's Bay taller than five stories, and as most of Napier's rebuilding took place in the 1930s when Art Deco was fashionable, Napier architecture is regarded today as being one of the finest examples of Art Deco anywhere.

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