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  Architecture & Engineering

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February 22, 2013

New Zealand's post-quake recovery suggests poor countries fare better

  • Within two years of a 2004 tsunami, half the 100,000 permanent homes needed in Indonesia were built, but in Japan, nearly two years after the March 2011 tsunami, few homes have been rebuilt.
    Associated Press

    CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand — Two years after an earthquake devastated New Zealand's second largest city, killing 185 and rattling Phil Thompson's suburban house off its foundations, the 65-year-old retiree still lives in a cramped trailer home parked on the incongruously neat lawn in front of his twisted wooden bungalow.

    Thompson, along with virtually everyone else in Christchurch, had thought the city would be closer to recovery by now. Instead he and his partner are resigned to spending a third southern hemisphere winter in the poorly insulated camper, venturing into the sagging house to use the toilet. Downtown, a temporary shopping center in brightly colored shipping containers has become a symbol of resilience, but most of the historic center remains a post-apocalyptic ghost town. “Beyond The Cordon” bus tours take sightseers behind chain-link security fences to see the ruins of the Feb. 22, 2011, quake.

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