New Zealand lowered its flags on Monday Februarty 22, as it marked the 10th anniversary of the Christchurch earthquake that killed 185 people.
Hundreds of people attended an outdoor service in Christchurch, which continues to rebuild from the magnitude 6.3 quake that destroyed much of its downtown in 2011.
According to Reuters, a separate service was also held in the Japanese city of Toyama, home to 12 students who died in the quake.
Speaking at the Christchurch ceremony, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern (pictured top left) said it was important to remember that 87 of the victims were foreigners and many of their families couldn’t be there because of coronavirus travel restrictions.
“Our flags fly at half-mast for them today too,” she said.
Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel talked about the 28 Japanese citizens who died, the largest number of victims from any country outside of New Zealand.
The 12 Japanese students were having lunch at King’s Education, an English language school for international students, when the quake struck, destroying the building.
“I especially wanted to mention all the Japanese family members who I last year met in Japan and who so wanted to be here,” she said.
“We are forever connected by this tragedy and we do not forget you even when we are apart. You are with us in spirit.”
The memorial service was held on the banks of the Avon River, and people observed a moment’s silence at 12:51 p.m., the moment the quake struck in 2011.
Emergency service workers then took turns reading out the names of each of the victims.
Prime Minister Ardern said the eartquake had affected people in many ways, and daily reminders including aftershocks and the fractured landscape had made the recovery harder.
“Ten years on there will be people still living their daily lives with the long shadow of that day,” she said.
“But as we look ahead to the coming decade, I see hope and energy and optimism,” she said.
“And I see Christchurch taking its rightful place amongst New Zealand’s best and brightest cities.”