5 Essential Beauty Items for Your Gym Bag


5 Essential Beauty Items for Your Gym Bag

Warmer days, a renewed spirit and (let’s be honest) the impending swimsuit season have me up before dawn three days a week for grueling gym sessions that leave me a sweaty mess.

This really isn’t a problem if I go straight home to shower, but sometimes a stop at Starbucks or other morning errands force me to head out in public right after my workout. For this reason, I keep my gym bag stocked with five essential items:

Secret Natural Mineral Deodorant: Using naturally derived minerals (in addition to other odor & wetness fighting ingredients), the newest deodorant incarnation from Secret is surprisingly effective. The Eucalyptus Blossom scent keeps me smelling fresh even after a long workout.
Clean Well All Natural Hand Sanitizer: Let’s face it, gym equipment is crawling with other people’s sweat and germs. Eww! I take extra care to keep my hands away from my face until I can spritz this Clean Well hand sanitizer on them. I love that it has no harsh or toxic chemicals and it’s alcohol free. (Bonus: the orange vanilla scent smells delish!)
Yes to Cucumbers Soothing Hypoallergenic Facial Towelettes: I’m not sure how I survived before discovering these facial towelettes but after a tough workout, nothing is more refreshing. These leave my skin feeling clean and moisturized. After cleaning my face, I wipe down my arms for added freshness.
Suave Professionals Dry Shampoo Spray: I’m so excited that Suave came out with a dry shampoo this year. A quick spray gives my hair volume, absorbs excess oil and leaves behind an invigorating citrus scent. All for less than $5.
CHANEL Glossimer in Scintillance: I’ve found the easiest way to feel fancy while donning sweaty workout gear: CHANEL lip gloss. One swipe of this peachy pink shade and my face and spirit brighten simultaneously.
What are your gym bag essentials?

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Sheen fires his ‘torpedo of truth’


Sheen fires his ‘torpedo of truth’

Torpedo away: After weeks of wild ups and downs actor Charlie Sheen is about to open his much-anticipated “My Violent Torpedo of Truth/Losing is Not an Option” tour.

CHARLIE Sheen has landed in Detroit in advance of the first show on his long-awaited stage show.

The actor will take the stage at Detroit’s Fox Theatre before a sold-out crowd for his “My Violent Torpedo of Truth/Defeat Is Not An Option” tour. He will then travel to Chicago to entertain fans in the Windy City.

Sheen’s two live-in ‘goddesses’, Bree Olsen and Natalie Kenly, are joining him on tour along with a bodyguard and several members of his entourage, that will oversee the logistics of his schedule and merchandising deals.

The former “Two and a Half Men” star will travel across the US and Canada for his 22-show tour that promises to give fans the “real story” behind his recent firing from the hit CBS show.

Given Sheen’s penchant for the unexpected, sparse details were provided on what the show would actually entail.

“Will there be surprises? Will there be guests? Will there be mayhem? Will you ask questions? Will you laugh? Will you scream? Will you know the truth? WILL THERE BE MORE?!?!” the show’s description on the Ticketmaster website said.

“This IS where you will hear the REAL story from the Warlock. Bring it. I dare you to keep up with me,” Sheen added in the description.

Sheen’s official website, which invites visitors to sign up “and start WINNING!” said one dollar from each ticket sold for his shows would be donated to the Red Cross’ Japanese earthquake relief fund.

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Japan earthquake victims to get 100,000 Crocs


Japan earthquake victims to get 100,000 Crocs US shoemaker Crocs said overnight it was donating 100,000 pairs of its clunky, colorful rubber clogs to victims of Japan’s devastating March 11 earthquake disaster. “Donating 100,000 pairs of shoes is the least we can do to help mitigate the enormous devastation that’s resulted from the earthquake and tsunami,” said Crocs president John McCarvel. “We have Crocs employees, wholesale partners and many loyal customers in Japan, and we’re honoured to be able to assist at a time when the Japanese people need our help the most.” Crocs shot up as a US and then international phenomenon in the mid-2000s, popular for their comfort and, for some, as an anti-fashion statement. But sales plummeted almost as quickly as the fashion tide turned, and the company lost money in 2008 and 2009 before moving back to profit last year with a new line of products. The company also sent 80,000 pairs of shoes to Haiti after its 2010 earthquake disaster.

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Explaining the inexplicable: How could Arthur Freeman kill Darcey?


Explaining the inexplicable: How could Arthur Freeman kill Darcey?

Man behind the monster

Patrick Carlyon tries to explain the inexplicable – why Arthur Freeman murdered his daughter

Arthur Freeman and Peta Barnes marry in 1999 Herald Sun

Arthur Freeman at a family gathering in 1996. Herald Sun

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MAD or bad? The appearance of Arthur Freeman at his murder trial supported either theory.

His locks, streaked blond, tumbled over the collar of the black suit he wore each day. Strands of hair, as though reaching for the sun, on his otherwise bare crown suggested a close relationship with a power plug.

His forehead looked to be carved with a hammer and chisel. As Freeman shuffled in each morning, shackles clanking, shoulders hunched, his body resembled a block of concrete, wide and thick. He would be likened to cartoon characters, mad monks and sci-fi aliens.

Sometimes, Freeman bared his teeth in expressions of pain. He whimpered and wept and guzzled water during evidence about the autopsy of his daughter, Darcey Freeman, the four-year-old he threw off the West Gate Bridge.

Mostly, he stared with wide eyes, like a zoo exhibit who could not grasp how he’d arrived where he was.

For 35 years, until January 29, 2009, “Ardie” was considered “harmless”. He was an IT geek who had shone as a database administrator in London. He played tennis weekly. He kept busy, with bike rides and tinkering, as he always had as a boy. There were beers and skiing trips in a life led, from school onwards, under the radar. Ordinariness was his thing.

More than anything else, it seems, he wanted more time with his three kids who – for a stretch – he had cared for full-time. He played beach soccer with them. He would take his daughter to ballet. Darcey would seek him out for hugs.

Then Freeman tossed her off a city landmark – as though posting a letter, according to one of many witnesses. No single act of recent times has haunted us like the “West Gate Bridge girl”.

No one could quite explain how this happened, not then, and not during his trial of the past few weeks. Not even the killer himself who, it was said, had no memory of the incident and who now, to keep busy, tends tomatoes in his prison garden. Apparently, the tomatoes are doing well.

Freeman’s trial has served to apportion blame. Yet in pleading not guilty – “mad, not bad” as his lawyer called it – Freeman’s case was doomed to skirt elements of context that may have helped explain the inexplicable.

A trial showdown of medical experts would throw up terms like “dissociative state” and “insane automatism”. The jargon did much to bamboozle a lay audience who, nevertheless, were jolted anew each day with the realisation that a little girl who sang and danced wasn’t coming back.

Much weight was placed on a custody dispute settled the day before Darcey’s death, a resolution Freeman had planned to mark with friends on the following night.

Instead, that night, he would be trembling and dribbling, pasted in snot and curled in the fetal position, on a police cell floor. Even his parents couldn’t coax a word from him.

Freeman was there but he wasn’t there at all.

The court-room theatrics did not settle questions that may never properly be answered.

Why did Freeman, described by a close relative as “too nice a dad”, damn his little girl at one of the busiest places in Melbourne?

How could he visit such terror upon someone so dear and so trusting? Was Arthur Freeman mad, or bad, or sad – or all of the above?

T he confusing dynamics for Freeman’s trial were set from the first day. Freeman’s defence admitted he had committed a “horror”, but argued he wasn’t culpable for it.

His plea committed a dozen or more ordinary people, who might otherwise have strived to forget their unwitting proximity to the tragedy, to brave the creaky stairs of the witness box.

The crux of the trial itself – was Freeman mentally impaired, or did his daughter die from his “conscious”, “deliberate” and “voluntary” act? – was almost beside the point.

Throughout, at least for those witnesses who had spoken with Freeman before the event, the process felt spooked with unspoken “what-ifs” that may have spared a little girl who looked a lot like the dad who killed her.

What if Freeman’s father had driven the three children the day before, as originally planned?

What if he had convinced Freeman, as he tried, to allow him to accompany them that hot morning?

What if any of the five adults Freeman spoke to in the hours before Darcey’s death had said something to avert such a tragic course?

None of these people were to blame, of course. This was not their fault. No one, except perhaps Freeman, had any inkling of the doom ahead.

Even now, two years later, few of those acquainted with Freeman – especially his own family – appear to have shed the shock.

The numbness may also apply to the wider community. Media junkies can acquire a thirst for unthinkable atrocities, such as gangland executions. A law of the jungle framework cushions such fascination. Such things don’t happen to us – they happen to them.

Yet the tale of Darcey Freeman’s doom slipped through the usual filters of distance. Many people say they don’t want to understand. Yet the face of the girl – two weeks shy of five, on her way to her first day of school and one of life’s first big adventures – pops up in the thoughts of thousands of bridge commuters each day.

Even Justice Paul Coghlan, a man known to keep his reserve, extended touching kindnesses to trial witnesses. “Don’t blame yourself,” he told one female witness.

Freeman’s own father, after finishing his evidence, looked to the judge.

“You know, I’ve lost my grand-daughter,” he said.

“I’m a grandfather, too,” Justice Coghlan replied. “I understand.”

Arthur Freeman

Arthur Freeman pictured with Darcey (left), and leaving court after the verdict. Main picture: Craig Barrow

HWT Image Library

Such glimpses of humanity, as well as tears and gulps, leavened evidence that would repeatedly bathe Supreme Court room 11 in despair.

As Freeman stared at nothing in particular, his ex-father-in-law, Wayne Barnes, an old-school ex-cop, glared and grimaced and glowered at him. Barnes often looked set to vault the rail that separated them.

Freeman himself, at times, appeared overwhelmed. He pulled faces that contrasted with the composure of his ex-wife in the witness box, giving evidence about an ex-husband who doomed her daughter to a life unled.

Freeman’s mouth gaped, as though he was unaware of the movement, when his older son’s video testimony of the event was aired.

The son’s legs kicked back and forth during the interview. He plainly could not grasp, at the time aged six, the gravity of “Little Darce’s” loss. The poor kid has the rest of his life for that.

Freeman’s eyes would take on red rims. During an inventory of Darcey’s injuries to the brain, heart, spleen, to the blood in her ears and nose, he scrubbed at his face with a hanky.

“He’s about to start howling at the ceiling,” one observer whispered. It’s said Freeman was at times reluctant to appear in court. Apparently, he stripped in the prison van en route one morning. One night, he was thought to refuse to leave his holding cell.

Yet the jury would never hear the words that may have softened Freeman’s de facto standing as a monster. They would not hear him say he was sorry.

The jury members filed in each morning to present as a panorama in grimness. They had been instructed to do the impossible, to get inside the head of an “excessively caring” father who fretted, in his absence, that no one would read his children bed-time stories.

A father who wanted to be a “huge part” of his children’s lives.

A father who killed his daughter for reasons that will never make sense and, in doing so, threatened to condemn all three of the fragile souls he helped bring into the world.

Freeman’s murder trial could never double as an examination of logic. There’s something in particular, too, it did not resolve. Was one death supposed to be three?

Freeman used plurals in phone threats to his ex-wife minutes before Darcey’s death. “Say goodbye to your children,” he said. “You will never see them again.”

Darcey’s older brother offered the only testimony of events in Freeman’s Toyota Landcruiser, driving from Airey’s Inlet to Melbourne that morning.

The two older children played games in the back seats. There were books and crayons. The two-year-old son drank from a bottle.

When the 4WD hit the West Gate Bridge, “we stopped”. Freeman asked “Darce” to climb into the front seat. Freeman, according to his son, said “please”. Then, “everything happened”.

Freeman had been on the phone to his sister during the trip. He made no reference to ghastly thoughts. He instead fretted about the kids’ lunches.

He also spoke to Elizabeth Lam, noted in court documents as a romantic interest living in London, but named as a “friend” in the court room.

He told her, she said in teary evidence in the witness box, that he felt his children had been taken away from him.

Freeman cried during the call. He felt “helpless”. He was preoccupied, it seems, with a custody settlement from the day before.

It seems reasonable to suggest the custody issues had consumed him for many months beforehand.

In November, 2008, according to a close relative, Freeman said his ex-wife would “regret it” if he lost custody. “That comment has gone through my head over and over,” the relative told the Herald Sun this week. “I am not sure then if he intended to do what he has done, but it did suggest that he would make her life hell.”

This tallies with comments, again offered on condition of anonymity, from the mother’s side of the family. Freeman was described as “calculating” and easy to underestimate. Further, he was a “control freak” who lost control after the marriage breakdown.

Freeman feared, rightly, that the shared care arrangements between the divorced parents – three days’ custody alternated with exchanges at Kew McDonald’s – would be altered. Freeman would now have custody one weekend a fortnight, with a few hours on alternate Thursday nights.

When he left the Family Court, he “appeared happy”, according to his ex-wife. It’s worth noting the decision was a negotiated settlement.

Yet the next morning, on the phone, Freeman told Lam there had been “lots of angry women in the courts who weren’t very supportive of fathers”.

Even then, perhaps 45 minutes before Darcey’s plunge, he offered no warning of the horror ahead. Freeman spoke about pursuing greater custody through the courts.

Her phone battery went dead, but Lam didn’t phone back. She assumed Freeman’s crying would help him reconcile his feelings to the reality of his situation.

“It didn’t even enter my head that he would harm anybody,” she said.

Freeman’s distress at the custody outcome was also described by his father, Peter, in court.

Freeman had returned to his parents’ home, where the kids had stayed, about midnight the night before. He was “in a bit of a trance”. Communication was difficult, but Freeman did express great dissatisfaction with a psychologist’s assessment that figured in the custody resolution.

Peter Freeman said his son believed he had been “sort of ambushed in the report and that the report was not unbiased”.

He was cut short several times giving evidence, even by his son’s defence counsel. Mr Freeman wanted to read from notes. At one point, it appeared he wanted to query the approach of the psychologist in question, as he, his wife and Freeman’s sister had done in their police statements.

Her name is Jennifer Neoh. Her assessment of Arthur Freeman, based on interviews held three weeks before Darcey’s death, was summarised in the trial. Freeman “tended to be irrational and contradictory and demonstrated . . . passive/aggressive traits and seemed to cause chaos around him”.

His behaviour on the interview day, firstly turning up late then reappearing before the scheduled appointment itself, distressed the children, Ms Neoh said in court. He hugged and soothed one of his upset children, she said. Yet he seemed oblivious to the chaos he created.

Freeman disagreed with the report. He thought the assessment unfair. Yet until a few minutes before he threw his daughter off a bridge, he indicated only that he would pursue legitimate channels of review.

The day before Darcey’s death, after the Family Court resolution, Freeman told a friend he planned to undertake a “personal development course” to counter the psychologist’s conclusions and fight for more time with his children.

Yet it seems apparent that Freeman’s mental health, from a layman’s perspective anyway, had been patchy since his marriage break-up to Peta Barnes in 2007, perhaps even before.

Barnes, in court, said her then husband had had mood swings and anger management issues. The mood swings were also described by another family member, who alluded to Freeman’s tendency to drive “erratically” when upset.

Ms Barnes’ police statement, taken two days after Darcey’s death, went further. She thought, in retrospect, Freeman may have been suffering some form of depression.

The pair had married on millennium eve, in Perth, and then lived in Maida Vale, a nicer part of London, for more than six years.

Arthur Freeman Peta Barnes marry in 1999

Arthur Freeman and Peta Barnes marry in 1999

Herald Sun

This pairing, at first anyway, had seemed like a healthy match. He was an introvert. She was an extrovert said to drive him to do things he may not otherwise have done.
Yet on coming to Melbourne to live, Freeman, Ms Barnes said, showed he was rigid, inflexible, and struggled with change.

When she left him in March, 2007, she spoke to a Hawthorn GP about her fears.

There followed an ugly incident. The pair had talked. As Barnes stood to leave, according to her, Freeman grabbed their baby son. She feared he would throw the baby into a fireplace. She bit him. Her mother slammed a metal stroller on his back. The police were called.

The pair divorced in June, 2008, but Freeman kept wearing his wedding ring. A few months later, he went to England for three months to sort out UK residency issues. He stayed with friends who said in a police statement that he appeared “clearly depressed”, “paranoid” and “obsessive”.

It seems, from several unnamed sources, that Freeman feared his ex-wife would return to live in Perth – with the children. He believed renovations were underway to allow that to happen.

He was also unhappy with the financial split. He fretted he would not have enough money to house the children. Freeman was said to have been frustrated when his then wife, soon after the separation, was said to have suddenly transferred more than $300,000 out of a joint account.

There is little doubt, rationally or not, that Freeman felt bullied and threatened.

“I’d say she was the dominant figure,” a family member says.

“Money didn’t mean that much to him. It wasn’t a big agenda at all.”

In London, contact calls with his children got muddled. Freeman felt his ex-wife was sabotaging the contact. He was thrown by suggestions that being overseas while custody issues were in dispute could hinder his access claims.

When the friends’ three-year-old daughter played up during a museum outing, Freeman restrained the girl, prompting his friend to describe it as “over-reaction”. The friend noted that Freeman was shaking.

Freeman also spent time in London with Elizabeth Lam. He helped care for her children. The pair discussed his marriage breakdown. Freeman was “very bitter” about his wife’s “behaviour towards him”.

Was Freeman unraveling at this time, a few months before Darcey’s death? Other accounts add strength to the theory.

His father, Peter Freeman, in agreeing in court that his son’s mental health had suffered “severe deterioration” since 2007, felt Freeman had become paranoid. At times, he appeared confused, anxious and teary although Peter Freeman described an improvement that quashed any notion of advising his son to seek professional help.

Yet a strange disconnect had emerged. Freeman would be obsessive about collecting receipts concerning the children. He had developed systems for feeding and dishes. Yet his Hawthorn flat was a mess of clothes and toys.

Freeman, according to a close source, had fashioned the children’s beds and drawers, apparently to save money for the custody case. He had gathered washing machines to scavenge parts. He tinkered often, as though embracing a distraction from reality. His parents were always trying to tidy the flat’s spills of clutter.

Such disorder was what police and journalists discovered in the hours after Darcey’s death. A hand-written note was stuck to Freeman’s television. It’s not plain who wrote it. If it was Freeman, he referred to himself in the third person.

The note spoke of “keeping a clear head” and having a “big fight on your hands”.

Popular opinion dictates that any parent who kills their child is insane. Such definitions are more technical in courts of law. Actions that qualify for everyday labels, such as “brainsnaps” or “meltdowns”, must meet specific psychiatric guidelines to legally classify as “mental impairment”.

Freeman’s murder trial heard references to the M’Naghten trial, which in 1843 codified a presumption of sanity unless the defence could prove otherwise, and “Falconer”, a 1990 case when a woman’s conviction for killing her husband was put aside after some psychiatric evidence was disallowed in her original case.

Freeman’s lawyer, David Brustman, SC, argued his client could not distinguish between right and wrong when he killed Darcey. He was mentally ill at the time.

Freeman had no psychiatric history (or criminal record) before Darcey’s death. Only one of six psychiatrists to interview Freeman agreed with Mr Brustman’s assertions.

Professor Graham Burrows likened Freeman’s state to that of a sleep walker on the morning of Darcey’s death.

He was at the severe end of dissociation – “He really didn’t know what was going on”.

Consultant psychiatrist Yvonne Skinner’s finding was more sinister. She has handled more than 80 cases of parents who kill their children. She concluded that Freeman’s actions fitted what is known as “spousal revenge”.

This theory dictates that the child itself is not the cause of violent rage, but instead a weapon of retribution. Such conclusions serve to reduce the reasons for Darcey’s killing to something akin to collateral damage.

They also reflect the recent conviction of Robert Farquharson, for the second time, whose three sons drowned when he drove into a dam on Father’s Day in 2005.

Yet it doesn’t explain why Freeman chose Darcey, as the first or only victim, instead of one of his two sons. The older son reported no acrimony during the car trip.

One hint, which may or may not be important, may lie in Dr Neoh’s report.

She specifically mentioned that Darcey was close to her mother in Freeman’s absence, and that her “educational and social needs” were important factors in the custody resolution.

Five of the six experts agreed that Freeman was probably anxious and stressed during the drive, but not to degrees that constitute a “disease of the mind”.

Darcey Freeman

Thrown: Darcey Freeman

The Daily Telegraph

He was running late for Darcey’s school drop-off. Lunches hadn’t been made, her school shoes were too big, and some of her school uniform was back at Freeman’s flat.

The build up of tension invites comparisons with the mental unwiring of Michael Douglas’ character in 1993’s Falling Down. Freeman told one doctor he recalled feeling trapped on the bridge. He felt enormous failure that he would not get to St Joseph’s Primary School, in Hawthorn, on time.

He told another doctor he had no recollection of speaking with his ex-wife, but felt it plausible that she may have called and “berated me for not being there (at school)”.

Professor Burrows said Freeman had been “tipped” by the psychologist’s report prepared for the custody hearing.

Professor Skinner said Freeman told her he had been “stunned” by the report, which he described as “scathing”.

Yet she argued his ability to drive a car and make phone calls showed he acting consciously and voluntarily.

The prosecution emphasised that he turned on the 4WD’s hazard lights, as evidence for presence of mind, when he pulled over on the bridge.

“The sequence of his behaviour demonstrates an awareness of his immediate environment and of a purposeful execution of behaviour . . .” said Dr Douglas Bell.

Freeman wouldn’t be the first father to be devastated by a Family Court decision.

Some men feel stripped of their wallets and dignity. Some grow depressed and outraged. Some have been driven by vengeance to unspeakable acts.

A Family Court judge was once shot dead in NSW. Others have been threatened. Fathers have taken their own lives.

Only one upset father has tossed his daughter from a bridge soon after a Family Court hearing.

The least contentious medical point of view, perhaps, was contained in a report by Dr Lester Walton. “Precisely what Mr Freeman may have been thinking or feeling at the material time remains unknown,” he said.

The expert arguments left little scope for popular perceptions. Freeman’s motives were either hopelessly deranged – or entirely evil. The jury went with the latter

Freeman was considered different from his first day at Newcomb High School in Geelong. No other boy in his year was called Arthur. Tormentors, always alert to a point of difference, exploited the weakness.

Paul Hogan had created a television character who sported zinc cream, a pot belly and an Esky. Freeman’s label may have been inspired by Hogan’s Arthur Donger. Another theory goes that Freeman used to smell.

Throughout school, he was called Ardie Dunger. Or Ardie Monster.

The mockery was not here or there. It was every day. Freeman spent six years at high school being terrorised. Bar the odd exception, he did not fight back.

When he did, people noticed, prompting the thought – and this from a close friend – that there was a “ticking time bomb” inside the kid who wouldn’t, or couldn’t, express himself.

“Part of me wonders whether he had mild Asperger’s (Syndrome) or something. He had a deep lack of any emotional intelligence . . . I never can recall him saying, ‘I understand how you feel’ or anything that would suggest or intimate that he did.

“Maybe if he had seen someone at that age maybe they could have diagnosed him with it.”

Some kids were thrown in bins at Newcomb High School. Some had their jumpers pulled over their heads and got slapped around. Even Ben Graham, the year’s closest thing to a future rock star, was held down in about year 8 and zapped with stove ignitor switches.

Freeman was bullied in other ways. He was told to stand on a rock in the playground. He would be ordered to stand there indefinitely. When he went to move away, he would be reminded to stay where he was. And he would obey, sometimes for 20 minutes or more.

Peter Freeman, a father of four, was a teacher at another school.

There were many troublemakers at school, the sort who fashion ninja stars in metalwork to throw at fellow students. As one student observes, such bullies could scent weakness.

“You know what kids are like,” he says. “They find the odd thing about anyone and they run with it. He copped it for his name, his look, and the way he acted.”

School year books portray a Newcomb High fraternity that celebrated sporting and science successes, with satire and without pretence. Of 88 students in Freeman’s year, 22 went to university.

Biology did not present Ben Graham, the budding Geelong footballer, with the gift of height until year 9. Graham and Freeman would go to the same university, connected by a mutually close friend, yet their diverging paths speak to life’s unknowable squiggles. Less than a week after Freeman threw his daughter from a bridge, Graham played in an NFL Superbowl.

There’s something more that may place Freeman’s childhood in the equation. It’s only rumour, but it draws a faint arc in grasping the incomprehensible.

It’s believed Freeman himself, since he killed his daughter, has traced adult issues to a childhood that included a spell at a primary school for kids with behavioural problems.

Part of his problem, perhaps – and this is from a close friend – was that Freeman had “zero people skills”. Freeman mumbled when he spoke, which wasn’t often. No one can recall any flirtations with girls who would not risk “reputational damage” by consorting with him.

It is suggested that later, when others had trekked paths of romantic exploration, Freeman remained unrounded in matters of emotional attachment.

When boys clustered in groups, Freeman would lurk at the edges of this or that gathering, never offering conversation that would open entry to a group. He was there, but he wasn’t.

He played football for a time and did weights.

Freeman would go on the annual school bike rides to Albury or elsewhere. Among a “power group” of boys, they would surge ahead on 100km day rides to arrive at their destination well before the pack.

He would “have a go at anything” says one peer, a trait later attributed to Darcey, who tried tennis and football.

Acceptance wouldn’t be found until university, when Freeman discovered alcohol and found two friends who, 15 years later, would be compelled to testify against him.

Freeman tinkered with Ford escorts, to prepare them for Autocross racing. His first car was a yellow Escort, many of its panels dinted and repaired. He would stay up until 5am on PlayStation, nap, then head to work at 8am. Later, when he met his future wife, Ardie would start to be instead called Artie.

By the time Freeman had qualified with a computer science honours degree, he had lost his hair at the crown of his head. He wore it then as he has at his murder trial – hanging long, looking weird. While married, his hair was short and neat. Visiting relatives were shocked to see his peculiar new hairstyle just before the trial began in early March.

Arthur Freeman

Arthur Freeman arrives at the Supreme Court. Picture: Ellen Smith

Herald Sun

One insight into Freeman’s formative thinking may lie in a poem he wrote in 1986, aged about 12. It was considered good enough to publish in the school yearbook.

Called “Feelings”, Freeman described fear as “when you’re in a maze with a tiger behind you”.

You run for your life

Then the tiger jumps you

The poem’s second stanza took on Dr Seuss cadences. The last four lines would acquire a weird prescience after Darcey’s death.

A forensic psychologist, on recently reading the poem, wrongly assumed that Freeman had been raised from a broken home.

It was written by a boy who later, as a man and a father, is said to have tried to write letters to his sons from jail.

But here comes your dad

So now you’re gald [glad] that you have a dad

Then he goes so you’re angry and mad

But you still love your dad

It may be tempting for his former school peers to write off Freeman as an aberration of nature. Almost every one appears to have done so. His single act defines him.

It hardly matters whether a court of law found Freeman insane or not. He didn’t just condemn his daughter and ex-wife. His own family is burdened with a grief – and stigma – that may not fade. The Freemans didn’t lose one family member. They lost as many as four.

One school peer, whose impressions were supported by others, spoke at great length to the Herald Sun. He was in Freeman’s grades several times, and liked him well enough to request a Facebook friendship years later, a few months before Darcey (the offer wasn’t taken up).

“He was like a Martin Bryant type,” the peer says.

“That look. He’d get that stare. Bloody Oath, it was scary. It was when he got bullied a bit and had had too much. But at the end of the day he was a likeable sort of fellow. They picked on him because he was harmless. But everyone knew he had that ability, that something inside him that could explode at any time.’

Newcomb High alumni hit Facebook to describe their shock and disgust at Freeman. One Facebook site sought members who wanted Freeman killed.

Yet for those who knew Freeman, Darcey’s death presented a conundrum. A close acquaintance wrote of twisted loyalties.

“I’m torn with my feelings,” she wrote. “One part of me is angry and wants justice for Darcey and another part of me feels for Ardy who is a friend in need. The conflicting feelings are like a storm churning inside. Which should rate, my head or my heart? The more I hear, the more confused I get.”

Two years later, Freeman’s high school peer keeps calling Darcey’s death an “accident”, and keeps correcting himself. Finally, he settles on “incident”.

He is sitting in a Geelong pub, nursing a beer. Rock music plays. Punters study the form for the next at Sale.

His mind veers off, to a cloudless morning and a metal railing where traffic has jammed and the city below, forever grey, is about to shimmer in a blast of heat and incomprehension.

Darcey’s final glimpses of life. Her panic? Her confusion? Such reflections mash the hardest heart. He has linked Freeman’s deed to his own children. He wants to shake and cry.

“This c—,’ he says, “threw his kid over the West Gate Bridge. “And for what?”

Freeman’s closer friend, too, pondered death penalties when, a few hours after Darcey fell 58m, he heard a radio report as he drove over the bridge.

Like all close observers, he feels a jolt of fresh shock each day, as though she died just this morning. Like all close observers, he anguishes over a simple question – what if?

For him, the question goes: What if their friendship had been rekindled?

This friend has also wondered whether he should visit Freeman in prison. He is uncertain if he would ask about Darcey’s death. Sometimes he wants to understand; other times, he does not.

Such curiosity may be moot. As far as the Herald Sun knows, Freeman talks tomatoes, but does not talk about his daughter’s death.

The old friend still cannot absorb Freeman’s deed. No one can, especially those at Freeman’s murder trial who concluded that the more they knew, the more they didn’t know at all.

Yet the friend is a man of faith. He believes that where there is justice, and justice must be served, there must also be mercy.

CV OF AN EVIL DAD

Education: Reluctant to go to school. A spell at a primary school for kids with behavioural problems, then Newcomb High School in Geelong

Nicknames: Ardie Dunger or Ardie Monster

School years: Fellow students say he was bullied, including being forced to stand on a rock without moving. He was often silent when spoken to. He would lurk on the edges of groups

Appearance: Fresh-faced with ginger facial hair that sprouted a year or two before other boys’

University: Computer science honors degree. Discovered alcohol

Sport: Played football for a time and did weights

Girls: No one can recall any flirtations with girls at school

Career: IT programmer

Marriage: Broke up with wife Peta Barnes in 2007

What his friends said about Arthur Freeman: “He was like a Martin Bryant type,” one peer said. “He’d get that stare. Bloody oath, it was scary. It was when he got bullied a bit But at the end of the day, he was a likeable sort of fellow”

ONLY QUESTIONS LEFT…

Now we’ve only got “what ifs”:

What if Freeman’s father had driven the three children the day before, as originally planned?

What if Freeman’s father had persuaded Freeman to allow him to accompany them that morning?

What if any of the five adults Freeman spoke to in the hours before Darcey’s death had said something that stopped him?

But – of course – “what ifs” can’t help.

THE FACE WE CAN’T FORGET

We remember her every time we drive across the West Gate Bridge. She’s the little girl who – on the day she was to start school – was thrown 58m to her death by her father.

But what was little Darcey like?

She was two weeks shy of her fifth birthday.

Darcey liked ballet and would often break into song and dance.

Her older brother called her “little Darce”.

She sought out her dad Arthur Freeman for hugs.

Her dad said “please” when he asked her to move into the front seat as he stopped the car that day on the bridge.

Then she was gone. And none of us could help asking the question “why” whenever we thought of her.

MAD OR BAD?

The jury in Arthur Freeman’s murder trial was given a simple choice: Was he mad or bad?

Freeman pleaded not guilty to murder on the ground of mental impairment.

According to the prosecution, his act of throwing his daughter off the West Gate Bridge was a conscious, voluntary and deliberate act after a failed custody dispute with his ex-wife.

According to the defence, Freeman was suffering a major depressive disorder and was in a “dissociative state” – like that of a sleep walker – and was unaware of his actions.

The defence called one expert witness – Professor Graham Burrows – to back the mental impairment claim.

WHAT THEY SAID

Darcey Freeman’s mum Peta Barnes

“I managed to get through one more time and I said to him, ‘It’s me.’

He said, ‘You’ll never see your children again’.”

Bridge eyewitness Barry Nelson

“It was just like it was an everyday event, like he may have been posting a letter and was walking back from the post box to his vehicle.”

Freeman’s UK-based friend Elizabeth Lam

“During the mediation he found that the women who were dealing with the family were not supportive. He said there were a lot of angry women in the courts … who weren’t very supportive of fathers.”

Arthur Freeman’s father, Peter Freeman

“It was a very strange thing that was happening … He was starting to collect hard rubbish and he would collect every receipt. He had a box full of them in the kitchen. Every receipt relating to the children.”

WHAT THE PSYCHIATRISTS SAID

DR DOUGLAS BELL:

“There is no basis in my view for concluding he was in a profound state of dissociation that in any way remotely speaks to the question or infers that he was not engaged in purposeful, willed or voluntary behaviour.”

DR YVONNE SKINNER:

“There is no evidence to suggest that Mr Freeman was incapable of forming intentions…His daughter Darcey reportedly presented some challenges in the management of her behaviour. Her educational and social needs were given as an important reason for the Family Court decision on changes to residential arrangements.”

DR LESTER WALTON:

“It’s possible that he was diagnosably mentally disturbed prior to the killing (but) the available evidence would tend to suggest he was not severely mentally disturbed…Precisely what Mr Freeman may have been thinking or feeling at the material time remains unknown.”

PROF PAUL MULLEN

“In my opinion, although Mr Freeman was certainly almost mentally disordered at the time he killed his daughter, there is insufficient information to draw any conclusions of relevance to the question of whether at that time he was incapable of knowing either the nature or wrongfulness of his actions.”

DR KATE ROBERTS:

“Nil psychotic noted.”

PROF GRAHAM BURROWS:

“What we’re talking about here is a man who in fact moved not just from the usual dissociation that you can see in major depressive disorders, but severe end of dissociation where, in fact, he didn’t really know what was going on.”

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Live updates: 8.9 earthquake rocks Japan – Pacific on tsunami alert


TIMES ARE IN AEST | CLICK HERE TO REFRESH THIS PAGE

Concerned for Australians missing in Japan? Call DFAT on +1300 555 135

* Report on the quake from the USGS
* Local coverage from Japan at NHK English

* Latest #japan updates on Twitter
* Google launches its person finder

1.43pm A strong 6.8-magnitude aftershock has struck off the east coast of Japan, US seismologists said, less than 24 hours after a massive earthquake created a powerful and destructive tsunami. AFP reports the aftershock, which the US Geological Survey said hit at a depth of just 24 kilometres, was centred 174km east-southeast of the city of Sendai, the scene of huge devastation when a 10-metre tsunami struck on Friday.

1.40pm As reports emerge of people calling for help, trapped under rubble, search-and-rescue expert Gillian Dacey assesses their chances of survivor. She tells the BBC: “In the right conditions they can survive at least four, and up to seven days. In some earthquakes, if the person who’s trapped has some water or food, they can maybe survive 10 days, and we have heard of some extreme cases of up to 14 days, but the conditions have to be right.

1.35pm Hundreds of Australians live in one of the areas potentially worst hit by the tsunami in Japan. Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd today said there were 54 Australians registered as living in the city of Sendai but that there were probably hundreds of Australians living in the area. “The reason being is that it is a place where Australian language teachers have gone to work,” he said.

1.32pm Australian search and rescue teams stand ready to travel to Japan, as early as Saturday night to help, Mr Rudd said.

 

Australia is ready to throw anything as is required (to help in this emergency) … We will throw everything at it.

 

Koriyama

Smoke billows from a residential area in Sendai, northern Japan, one of the hardest hit regions. Picture: AP

 

 

Sendai

 

A tsunami-drifted ship sits on a pier in Sendai, northern Japan. Picture: AP

 

Sendai

12.20pm Japan’s quake caused the day to become a bit shorter. NASA geophysicist Richard Gross calculated that Earth’s rotation sped up by 1.6 microseconds, according to an Al Jazeera report, which cited AP.

12.04pm The Japanese Government is currently holding an emergency meeting on the subject of the Fukushima nuclear plants, according to the Guardian.co.uk.

12.03pm AFP reports that Japanese naval and coastguard helicopters have found a ship that was swept out to sea by a massive tsunami and airlifted all 81 people aboard to safety.

Environmental group Greenpeace has told AFP:

 

Japan is in the middle of a nuclear crisis with potentially devastating consequences

11.44am Japan’s trade ministry has announced that Fukushima’s plant operator Tepco is “considering releasing pressure” at the Fukushima No 2 (Daini) nuclear plant, according to the Guardian.co.uk. The Government has also just ordered the evacuation of a three kilometre radius around the plant.

American Jesse Johnson, who lives in Chiba, north of Tokyo, told Sky News he was at a sushi restaurant with his wife when the quake hit.

I’ve lived in Japan for 10 years and I’ve never felt anything like this before,” he said. “It got to the point where I don’t know whether it’s me shaking or an earthquake.

11.22am According to Al Jazeera, there are now five reactors under a state of emergency – two at Fukushima No 1 (Daiichi) plant, and three at the nearby Fukushima No 2 (Daini) plant.

Residents look over destroyed buildings half submerged in water after a tsunami hit the city of Kesennuma, in northeast Japan, March 12, 2011. Picture: AP

Kesennuma, Japan


11.05am The death toll from the catastrophic earthquake in Japan has reached 202 in nine prefectures, including Tokyo, with the toll likely to rise to well over 1000, Kyodo News is reporting, citing the country’s National Police Agency and the Defense Ministry.

10.54am Japan’s military has reportedly mobilised thousands of troops, hundreds of planes and dozens of ships, as the country kicks off a mammoth relief mission. According to the BBC, Japan’s Prime Minister Naoto Kan also plans to hold an emergency cabinet meeting early on Saturday local time, before visiting the disaster zones by helicopter.

10.51am Japan’s nuclear safety agency is reportedly set to issue an unprecedented order for Tepco to open a valve at the damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant to release pressure, according to the Guardian.co.uk.

10.40am Grim updates indicating appalling loss of life are emerging from along the hard-hit east coast of northern Honshu island, where the monster waves destroyed more than 3000 homes on Friday, AFP reports.

Sayaka Umezawa, a 22-year-old college student, was visiting the port town of Hakodate, in northeast Japan, when the 8.9-magnitude quake hit. She told AFP about her terrifying experience:

 

It was the biggest earthquake I have ever felt. I thought I would die.

10.15am DFAT has said it remains concerned for 54 Aussies in earthquake-hit areas, but added there were no reports of Australian casualties or injuries.

10.12am The death toll from the 8.9-magnitude earthquake in Japan has reached 185, according to Kyodo News agency.

10.09am Unconfirmed reports the Fukushima nuclear plant has recovered power.

10.05am Watch this Ustream for live images from Japan.

10am This New York Times report provides a good explanation of what’s going on at the Fukushima plant.

9.46am Japan’s nuclear safety agency has confirmed the damaged Fukushima No 1 has been leaking radiation outside the plant, the Guardian.co.uk reports. According to the Guardian, there are now also reports from nuclear plant operator Tepco that the Fukushima No 2 plant has lost cooling to three of its reactors.

9.44am Japan’s public broadcaster NHK, quoting nuclear safety officials, said there was “no immediate health hazard” to nearby residents from a possible minute leakage at the Fukushima No1 nuclear power plant.

Buildings burn in the town of Yamada, in northeast Japan, after the country’s biggest recorded earthquake hit, March 11, 2011. Picture: AP

Yamada town

9.27am Japan says radiation levels have surged outside nuclear plant, expands area subject to evacuation, The Guardian reports.

9.20am A tsunami has swept at least five people watching the waves out to sea and ripped docks out of harbours in California, spreading the destruction of a devastating Japanese earthquake to the shores of the United States.

9.08am The Kyodo news agency is now citing a safety panel as saying that the radiation level inside one of the reactors at the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear plant is 1000 times higher than normal, according to BBC News.

9am A strong 6.7-magnitude earthquake which hit Japan’s mountainous Niigata prefecture, northwest of Tokyo, at 4am on Saturday (6am AEDT) caused landslides and avalanches and destroyed some wooden houses. Kyodo News said there were no immediate reports of casualties and no fresh tsunami alert was issued. It was followed by an almost equally strong quake in the same area half an hour later.

The earthquake-triggered tsunami washes away a warehouse and vehicles in Kesennuma, Japan. Picture: AP

 

 

Kesennuma, Miyagi

8:48am Radiation levels at the damaged Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear plant are continuing to rise. The Jiji Press news agency says the levels are eight times above normal, BBC reports.

8:41am Final death toll in Japan likely to be in the thousands, according to numerous news agencies.

8:39am Around 11,000 Australians are believed to be in Japan, with 41 registered in affected areas, according to Sky News.

8:35am John Large, independent nuclear safety analyst, has told Al Jazeera that Japanese officials will have to manage a balancing act at the Fukushima nuclear power plant. He says there is a risk of exposing the public if they try to contain radioactive steam. Read more here.

8:26am Kyodo news agency is reporting that radiation may have already been released at a nuclear plant and that four commuter trains are still unaccounted for in the Miyagi and Iwate prefectures.

8:16am DFAT advisory – If you are in Japan and require assistance, you can contact the Australian Embassy in Tokyo on 03 5232 4111 and you will be transferred to the Crisis Centre.

If you are concerned about Australians in Japan you should in the first instance try to contact them directly. If this is unsuccessful, you can contact the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 (from overseas) or 1300 555 135 (within Australia).

8:10am If you’re trying to contact someone in Japan or have information that could help those looking for loved ones, Google’s People Finder may help.

8:05am A California man has been swept out to sea after travelling into dangerous waters to take photos of incoming tsunami waves.

7:58am The towering wall of water generated by Japan’s 8.9-magnitude earthquake – the seventh biggest in history – pulverised the country’s northeastern city of Sendai, where police reportedly said that 200-300 bodies had been found on the coast. Japan’s National Police Agency said 137 people had been confirmed dead and 531 missing, with 627 others injured in the tremor, not including the bodies reportedly found on the Sendai coast.

 

The damage is so enormous that it will take us much time to gather data – local official in Japan

7:43am An “energy map” created by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) shows the power of the tsunami that hit Japan following the 8.9 magnitude earthquake, Japan’s biggest on record.

7:36am The final death toll from the devastating earthquake and tsunami is likely to pass 1000, according to Japan’s news agency Kyodo News.

7:25am Fox News is reporting that tsunami waves have hit Hawaii beaches and the US western coast. No reports of major damage, but scientists have warned that the first tsunami waves are not always the strongest.

7:15am New Zealand has upgraded its tsunami warning, saying waves of more than one metre are now expected following the massive 8.9-magnitude earthquake in Japan.

 

Japan Nuclear Power Stations

 

6:50am The Japanese government has declared an atomic emergency and told thousands of residents living near a nuclear plant in Fukushima to evacuate, warning a small amount of radiation could be released, AFP reports.

6:29am Tsunami waves have hit Mexico, according to AFP. Initial waves were half-a-metre high but subsequent waves could be as high as two metres, the Scientific Research Centre in the town of Enseada said.

6:18am A magnitude 6.6 quake has now struck in central Japan, causing Tokyo buildings to sway, BBC reports. This new earthquake was reportedly on a different faultline from the first 8.9 magnitude earthquake. No reports of damage so far and no new tsunami alerts have been issued.

6.02am The situation at the nuclear power plant appears to be worsening, The Associated Press has quoted an anonymous official as saying if the outage in the cooling system persists, eventually radiation could leak out into the environment, and, in the worst case, could cause a reactor meltdown. However the Guardian mentions a nuclear expert speaking to CNN has said this was only a remote possibility.

Buildings are destroyed by a wall of water in Iwaki, Fukushima. Picture: AP

Japan Earthquake

 

5.44am BBC quotes nuclear physicist Dr Walt Patterson as saying the situation at the Fukushima-Daiichi plant is “the sort of thing that nuclear engineers have nightmares about … if it is not resolved in the next few hours it will get serious”. Read their analysis of the nuclear emergency.

5.25am The tsunami has hit Santa Cruz on the US west coast, CBS5 is streaming live coverage of the effects. CBS2 reporter Joe Vazquez tweets:

Boats adrift in Santa Cruz; loose from damaged piers. Chopper 5 shows boats floating under overpasses, crashing into other boats on dock.

CBS5 reporting a dozen or so sunken boats. County spokesman says at least $2M damage.

5.23am The BBC have created this interactive map with video for selected regions showing the horrific impact of the quake and tsunami.

5.16am Despite earlier appearing to have been contained authorities are again concerned with the nuclear reactor at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant. The Associated Press reports pressure inside the reactor has risen to 1.5 times the level considered normal.

5.14am Scientists said the earthquake was nearly 8,000 times stronger than one that devastated the city of Christchurch in New Zealand last month.

A tsunami tidal wave washes away houses in Kesennuma, Miyagi. Picture: AP

 

Japan Earthquake

 

5.04am There are still fears for the occupants of two trains and a ship with over 100 passengers that were swept away by the tsunami.

4.47am There is amazing footage on Youtube of buildings swaying. View videos here and here.

4.30am US President Barack Obama has offered Japan his “deepest condolences, especially to the victims and their families. I offered our Japanese friends whatever help is needed”. He said that the US already had an aircraft carrier stationed in Japan and that another was on its way. “We also have a ship en route to the Marianas Islands to assist as needed. The defence department is working to account for all our military personnel in Japan. US embassy personnel in Japan have moved to an off-site location, and the state department is working to account for and assist any and all American citizens who are in the country.”

4.18am Kyodo news agency now puts the estimate of number killed at more than 1000.

4.03am The tsunami is expected to hit Ocean Beach in San Francisco shortly, resident Mathew Honan has set up a webcam you can access here.

The waves have started to hit the US West Coast now. Mike Murphy, emergencies chief in Port Orford, Oregon said:

The tsunami has arrived now and the ocean is surging as though it were between high tide and low tide every 30 minutes instead of the usual six hours.

4.02am Japanese defence ministry officials have said 1800 homes in Fukushima prefecture have been destroyed, the BBC reported.

3.59am The Herald Sun has this account from Australian Luke Norris who was in his high-rise apartment in central Tokyo when the quake hit.

I crouched next to the bed. All the lights went out. The whole building started swaying. I’m pretty high up. It was a very scary experience.

3.50am Governments around the world have pledged their support and offered aid to Japan in the wake of the largest quake to ever hit the country.

A house sinks into the ground at Sukagawa city, Fukushima. Picture: AFP

 

JAPAN-QUAKE

 

Pedestrians clamber over a piece of collapsed road in Urayasu city, Chiba. Picture: AFP

 

JAPAN-QUAKE

 

3.40am Reports indicate the situation at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant is “under control”. The World Nuclear Association has said it understands that water is now being pumped into its cooling system. Reuters has also reported the US has transported emergency coolant to the plant. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said:

We just had our Air Force assets in Japan transport some really important coolant to one of the nuclear plants. You know Japan is very reliant on nuclear power and they have very high engineering standards, but one of their plants came under a lot of stress with the earthquake and didn’t have enough coolant.

3.18am Hawaii appears to have dodged the worst of the tsunami with the wave passing seemingly without major impact. White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley said:

I think the enormous fears that that were there hours ago, for some of us hours ago, has diminished greatly, which is quite a relief for all of us.

Houses continue to burn into the night at Natori, Miyagi. Picture: AP

 

Japan Earthquake

 

3.08am Five Australians MPs have arrived safely in Tokyo after spending hours trapped on a bullet train that ground to a halt following the 8.9 magnitude earthquake in Japan. Labor MPs Stephen Jones said the atmosphere on the crowded train was surprisingly calm.

You have got to hand it to the Japanese people. They are really taking this in their stride.

3.06am Embassy officials in Japan are trying to contact at least 45 Australians known to be in the region hardest hit by the 8.9 magnitude earthquake and tsunami.

2.58am The Courier-Mail has amazing eye-witness reports from Aussies in the heart of the quake.

I could’ve sworn I didn’t set my alarm to earthquake last night – Joel Porter, based in Sendai, about 130km west of a quake epicentre.

 

Things were falling off the shelves . . . the microwave was centimetres away from toppling off. The TV stand, holding a 32-inch TV, wheeled itself a couple of metres across the floor – Maki Miyaguchi, an Australian copy editor with Kyodo News, Tokyo

Waves wash away a warehouse and vehicles in Kesennuma, Miyagi. Picture: AP

 

 

Japan Earthquake

 

2.47am A large section of Kesennuma, a town of 70,000 people in Miyagi, is burning furiously with no apparent hope of the flames being extinguished, public broadcaster NHK said. A witness told the broadcaster that the fire began after the tsunami knocked over several cars, causing them to leak oil and gas. The fire started hours later and rescuers have yet to arrive.

2.45am The death toll hasrisen to at least 310 people. The National Police Agency said 110 people had been confirmed dead and 350 missing, with 544 others injured in the tremor.

The death toll has yet to include the 200-300 dead bodies which were (reportedly) found on the beach of Sendai.

2.42am A Japanese news agency has reported a dam has burst in north-eastern Japan, washing away homes.

2.25am Residents in coastal parts of northern California have evacuated their homes in anticipation of an expected tsunami. Authorities warned waves could reach as high as two metres.

2.23am Queen Elizabeth II has sent a message to the Emperor of Japan.

 

I was saddened to hear of the tragic loss of life caused by the earthquake which has struck north east Japan today. Prince Philip joins me in extending our heartfelt sympathy to your majesty and the people of Japan. Our prayers and thoughts are with everyone who has been affected by the dreadful disaster.

2.02am The official Kyodo news agency is reporting that about 88,000 people are missing. The pictures below show the awful scale of the earthquake’s impact.

A man walks past burning rubble in Iwaki city, Fukushima. Picture: AP

 

Japan Earthquake

 

A worker inspects a caved-in section of the Joban Motorway near Mito, Ibaraki. Picture: AP / Nexco East Japan

 

Japan Earthquake

 

1.46am UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has expressed his condolences to the Japanese people. He said the UN will do “all it can to mobilise humanitarian assistance”.

The world is shocked and saddened by the images which we saw this morning. On behalf of the United Nations, I want to express my deepest sympathies and heartfelt condolences to the Japanese people and government, and most especially to those who have lost family or friends in the earthquake or subsequent tsunami.

1.41am The first waves to hit Hawaii have been thankfully small. Waves were measured at 48cm at Nawiliwili on the island of Kauai, according to officials at an emergency centre in Honolulu. “It’s not going to be a major damaging event,” said Gerard Fryer with the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre as the surge began to hit, although he added there might be scattered damage.

1.17am Millions of people in greater Tokyo are stranded after the earthquake shut down the capital’s massive subway system. Countless workers have found themselves stuck far from their families, and unable to speak to them because the overloaded mobile phone system could not carry most calls.

1.00am Japanese police have found 200 to 300 bodies on a beach at Sendai. NHK television said the victims appeared to have drowned. Police are now putting the death toll at 88 with 349 missing, not including the bodies found at Sendai.

This dramatic picture shows the tsunami as it hits Natori, Miyagi. Picture: AP / Kyodo News

 

japan earthquake tsunami

 

12.53am The east coast of Japan continue to be rocked by aftershocks – The US Geological Survey reports seven more over the past half hour.

12.49am Prime Minister Julia Gillard has expressed her condolences to the people of Japan.

On behalf of the people of Australia I want to express our very sincere condolences to the people of Japan and the government of Japan on the death and devastation we are seeing following the earthquake and tsunami. Like people around the world I’ve been watching the images on our TV screens – they are truly shocking.

12.37am Japanese police have reported a major explosion at a petrochemical complex in Sendai.

12.36am The first tsunami waves have hit Hawaii. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre says Kauai was the first island hit. Officials predicted Hawaii would experience waves up to two metres.

12.31am Tokyo’s Narita airport has partially resumed flights. Officials from the airport said some departing flights were now taking off from the airport, but that it was not accepting arrivals. Around 10,000 people were stranded at Narita, and 1100 at Sendai airport, which saw its runways submerged by sweeping black floodwaters.

The picture below shows the tsumani sweeping its way into Sendai airport. Picture: AP / Kyodo News

 

japan earthquake tsunami

 

Vehicles are crushed by a collapsed road at a carpark in Yabuki. Picture: AFP

 

Japan Earthquake

 

Vehicles ready for shipping being carried by a tsunami tidal wave at Hitachinaka city in Ibaraki. Picture: AFP

 

Japan Earthquake

 

12.15am The whereabouts of a ship carrying 100 people which was swept away by the tsunami are still unknown, the Kyodo news agency has reported.

12.03am The northern coast of Indonesia has been struck by a small tsunami. There are no reports of how much damage has been caused and people are still on alert for future waves. Small tsunami waves have also hit the Philippines, but there were no reports of local damage or casualties. Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology director Renato Solidum told a news conference the waves ranged from 30cm to one metre.

The graphic below shows the quake as a star and the estimated time the tsunami will take to hit surrounding Pacific regions. Full image available from NOAA.

 

Graph

 

Parts of houses already swallowed by the tsunami burn in Sendai. Picture: AP

 

Japan Earthquake

 

11.42pm Latin America’s Pacific coast is on tsunami alert. Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa has declared a state of emergency and ordered people on the Galapagos Islands and the coast of the mainland to seek higher ground. Meanwhile, the tsunami is expected to reach Mexico’s coastline within three to four hours.

11.31pm Some 2,000 residents living near Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant have been urged to evacuate.

11.25pm Japanese police have stated the death toll has reached 60 with 56 people still missing.

 

Japan Nuclear Power Stations

 

11.22pm More detail from The Associated Press on the state of emergency issued at a nuclear plant after its cooling system failed:

Chief cabinet secretary Yukio Edano says the nuclear power plant in Fukushima developed a mechanical failure in the system needed to cool the reactor after it was shut down in Friday’s earthquake.

He said the measure was a precaution and there was no radiation leak at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant. He said the facility was not in immediate danger.

11.15pm Tsunami sirens have sounded on coastal areas in Hawaii, where the first waves are expected to hit about 1.00am (AEDT). Waves about half a metre high hit Wake Island in the Northern Pacific, meaning the biggest waves to hit Hawaii could reach near 2 metres, said Gerard Fryer, a geophysicist for the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre. Residents in coastal areas across the Pacific from Hawaii to Guam were ordered to evacuate to shelters and higher ground. In Hawaii’s tourist district of Waikiki, visitors were being moved to higher floors of their hotels.

We’re preparing for the worst and we’re praying for the best.

The graphic below shows the earthquake to hit Japan was one of the biggest since 1900.

 

Giant quakes

 

The image below is a monitor for activity in the Pacific region.

 

Seismic monitor

 

Houses are in flame while the Natori river is flooded over the surrounding area in Natori city. Picture: AP

 

Japan Earthquake

 

This picture shows the refinery plant at Ichihara in Chiba engulfed by flames. Picture: AFP

 

JAPAN-QUAKE

 

10.56pm Reports indicate New Zealand has downgraded the tsunami threat to a marine threat only.

10.50pm Hawaii has ordered the evacuation of all coastal areas as the threat of a tsunami nears. Main airports have been shut down as a precaution and the US Navy has ordered warships in Pearl Harbor to remain in port to support rescue missions.

10.36pm New Zealand has now issued its own tsunami warning and warns people to stay clear of beaches.

10.30pm US President Barack Obama has offered his condolences to the people of Japan and said his country stood ready to help them after the massive earthquake and tsunami.

(First Lady) Michelle (Obama) and I send our deepest condolences to the people of Japan, particularly those who have lost loved ones in the earthquake and tsunamis. The United States stands ready to help the Japanese people in this time of great trial.

The friendship and alliance between our two nations is unshakeable, and only strengthens our resolve to stand with the people of Japan as they overcome this tragedy.

Cars and other Debris swept away by tsunami tidal waves are seen in Kesennuma in Miyagi. Picture: AP

 

Japan Earthquake

 

10.23pm Japan has declared a state of emergency because of the failure of the cooling system at one nuclear plant, according to the Associated Press. Officials say there has been no leak of radiation.

10.03pm BBC online has an account of the quake from Shola Fawehimni, who was at Hokkaido’s airport in northern Japan when it hit:

It was a bit surreal. The chairs and the floor started moving and swaying. I wasn’t really sure what was going on. Then the building started swaying and I realised it was an earthquake. Some ceiling panels fell down.

10.01pm UK Prime Minister David Cameron has offered Britain’s condolences to Japan.

We send our sympathies and condolences to the Japanese people. We’ve had a terrible reminder of the destructive power of nature and everyone should be thinking of that country and its people and I’ve asked immediately that our government should look at what we can do to help.

9.50pm Authorities have said the death toll from the quake has risen to at least 32 people. The magnitude 8.9 offshore quake was followed by at least 19 aftershocks, most of them of more than magnitude 6.0.

A truck remains stranded on a road damaged by a powerful earthquake in Iwaki city. Picture: AP

 

Japan Earthquake

 

9.48pm AAP is reporting thatfive Australian MPs are trapped on a bullet train that ground to a halt following the quake.

The federal Liberal member for Fadden, Stuart Robert said he and four other MPs were on the train when the earthquake hit. Mr Robert said he was with Labor MPs Stephen Jones and Amanda Rishworth, Liberal Senator Michaelia Cash and Victorian Labor MP Natalie Hutchins.

All five are reported to be unharmed.

Residents walk through the rubles of residents collapsed by a powerful earthquake in Iwaki. Picture: AP

 

Japan Earthquake

 

9.22pm The Guardian website has the following live report from Tristan Mathers in Tokyo reporting life is going on as normal.

It’s kind of crazy because restaurants and convenience stores have remained open despite there being no power. In the background you can hear sirens. People are still going to restaurants and getting food at convenience stores…

The city seems to be in pretty good shape. There’s no damage, no buildings crumbling that I’ve seen. As I said some people are still eating in restaurants, even though it’s pitch black. There’s no power so I expect people are just trying to get back to normal.

The picture below shows flames rising from homes and debris half submerged in Sendai. Picture: AP

 

Japan Earthquake

 

9.21pm The tsunami moving across the Pacific is currently so large it could pass right over whole islands in the region, experts are warning. From London’s Independent:

The tsunami set off by Japan’s major earthquake is currently higher than some Pacific islands which it could wash over, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said today.

“Our biggest concern is the Asia and Pacific region, where developing countries are far more vulnerable to this type of unfolding disaster. The tsunami is a major threat,” Paul Conneally, spokesman for the Federation, the world’s biggest disaster relief network, told Reuters in Geneva.

“At the moment, it is higher than some islands and could go right over them,” he said.

Also, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii widened its warning to include most of the Pacific Ocean region.

9.12pm The Bureau of Meteorology says there is no tsunami threat for Australia. The latest Bureau of Meteorology update says Australia’s mainland, islands and territories are safe.

Forecaster Chris Ryan from the National Meteorological and Oceanographic Centre said there was a chance that could change if the quake’s magnitude is found to be higher.

But we’re a fair while past the event now, it seems to have settled to that level. We’re relatively sheltered.

8.50pm The USGS has a summary of the key seismological facts about the quake. It also provides some of the tectonic background to the earthquakes that hit the area.

At the latitude of this earthquake, the Pacific plate moves approximately westwards with respect to the North America plate at a velocity of 83 mm/yr. The Pacific plate thrusts underneath Japan at the Japan Trench, and dips to the west beneath Eurasia. The location, depth, and focal mechanism of the March 11 earthquake are consistent with the event having occurred as thrust faulting associated with subduction along this plate boundary.

8.44pm Reuters explains why, even in earthquake-prone Japan, this event is of frightening proportions. Excerpt:

Roiling water swept away homes, highways and the cars driving on them as waves 10 metres high hit the country’s northeastern Pacific coast after the magnitude 8.9 quake, the biggest in nearly a century and a half.

The tsunami, black with soil and thick with debris, some of it ablaze, submerged farmland near the coastal city of Sendai, and television images showed upended cars bobbing up and down in the water. Boats were floating in an inland sea.

The quake rattled skyscrapers in Tokyo further south, where the streets around the main train station were packed with commuters stranded after buses and trains were halted.

8.43pm Acting Prime Minister Wayne Swan says Australia stands ready to assist Japan.

8.38pm The pictures below show the scale of the damage to stricken cities following the earthquake and tsunami.

A man shelters beneath a desk in Sendai, Miyagi Prefect. Picture: AFP

 

People amid quake in Japan

 

Black smoke emerged from a building in Tokyo’s Koto Ward. Picture: AP

 

Quake strikes Japan

 

Vehicles are crushed by a collapsed wall at a carpark in Mito city in Ibaraki prefecture. Picture: AP

 

JAPAN-QUAKE

 

8.35pm The US Geological Survey reports the monster 8.9-magnitude earthquake which hit Japan was the country’s biggest ever and the seventh largest on record.

Ships and boats are washed ashore in Hachinohe, Aomori Prefectur. Picture: AP

 

Japan Earthquake

 

8.27pm National Police Agency said it would be quite some time until the actual toll from the disaster would be known.

“The damage is so enormous that it will take us much time to gather data.”

8.13pm Philippine officials are ordering an evacuation of coastal communities along the country’s eastern seaboard in expectation of a tsunami. The Philippine Volcanology and Seismology Institute director Renato Solidum says the first 1-metre high waves are expected to hit the northernmost Batanes islands by 5pm local time today.

The picture below shows Iwaki in Fukushima Prefecture as it is struck by the tsunami. Picture: AP

 

JAPAN-QUAKE

8.12pm Google launches its person finder application for the tradgedy.

 

7.46pm AFP are reporting at least eight people have been killed with three being crushed to death when their houses collapsed in Ibaraki prefecture northeast of Tokyo.

7.41pm The West Coast and Alaska Tsunami Warning Center said that any tsunami generated by the earthquake would hit Hawaii at around 2:45am (1245 GMT) and the West Coast at 7:45am (1545 GMT).

7.39pm Tsunami warnings have been issued for Russia, the Philippines and the Mariana Islands, according to the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center.

They have also been extended to Australia, New Zealand, Hawaii, Guam, the Philippines, the Marshall Islands, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Nauru and Micronesia.

The United States later placed the West Coast and Hawaii on tsunami “watch,” urging residents to stay tuned for more information, AFP reported.

The picture below shows a power plant on fire in Ishihara. Picture: AFP / HO / NHK

 

JAPAN-QUAKE

 

7.33pm Three people have now been confirmed dead included a 67-year-old man crushed by a wall and an elderly woman killed by a fallen roof, both in the wider Tokyo area.

6.45pm Agence France Presse reports that No radiation leaks have been detected from Japan’s nuclear power stations after the quake.

6.35pm First quake death reported

6.11pm See pictures of quake impact here.

6.07pm In this picture reporters at the Associated Press Tokyo Bureau in Tokyo take shelter under a table as the earthquake strikes. Picture: AP.

 

Japan Earthquake

5.23pm US Geological survey updates magnitude to 8.8.

 

5:13pm Russia, Taiwan, Phillipines and Hawaii on tsunami watch after a reported 7.9-magnitude earthquake strikes off Japan’s northeastern coast.

 

 

Japan Nuclear Power Stations

 

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Computer glitch hits CBA customers


A SOFTWARE glitch is bugging the biggest of the big four banks and causing difficulties for customers using online banking.

Commonwealth Bank spokesman Steve Batten said: “It’s predominantly with our NetBank customers but the situation is evolving throughout the day and we hope to update our customers later this afternoon.”

The bank issued a statement earlier today that said: “Last night the CBA encountered an issue when conducting routine database maintenance.

“Consequently this morning some customers are experiencing difficulties when making a funds transfer through our NetBank, CommSee and phone banking channels. ”

Some point of sale [eftpos] systems and ATMs are also impacted.

“Customers needing to undertake an urgent funds transfer are advised to visit their local branch where they can carry out the transaction which will be processed when full service is restored.

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Related Coverage

CBA tech glitch hits online, ATM systems The Australian, 24 minutes ago
Maintenance triggers CBA glitch Courier Mail, 4 hours ago
CBA hits back at NAB in pricing war Perth Now, 10 days ago
Online, phone banking outage hits NAB Perth Now, 31 Jan 2011
New glitch stalls NAB Herald Sun, 31 Jan 2011

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“The CBA is working to restore service as matter urgency. Full service is expected to resume this afternoon.

“The CBA understands the potential impact these matters can have on our customers and apologises for the inconvenience.”

The CBA is updating its core business banking software – as are most of the larger deposit taking institutions in Australia.

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New Zealand Earthquake Christchurch


At least 75 people have been killed after a 6.3-magnitude earthquake struck Christchurch, New Zealand. Updates will be posted here as they come to hand.

TIMES ARE IN AEDT | REFRESH THIS PAGE FOR UPDATES

11.48am Beached Az team releases new video urging donations to the NZ Red Cross.

11.39am Julia Gillard has confirmed a long-term Australian resident has died in the earthquake. The man was a New Zealander by birth but was a permanent resident, with a wife and children in Australia.

“He lost his life in the earthquake as a result of being trapped in rubble,” Ms Gillard said.

11.34am NZPA reports 24 Japanese citizens are missing after the Christchurch quake, including 11 language students feared trapped under the collapsed building of the King’s Education College language school.

11.28am Economists say the earthquake will have massive economic implications for the Canterbury region and the rest of the country, but it’s too early to quantify the impact.

11.26am Luxury cruise liner the Queen Mary 2 has cancelled its visit to Christchurch and will likely stop at the New Zealand capital Wellington instead after it leaves Sydney this afternoon.

11.10am A rescue team spokesman has said they do not think anyone has survived in the Canterbury TV (CTV) Building due to smoke asphyxiation.

He said rescuers had not had any contact with anyone trapped in the building for the past five hours. “Our resources are better used elsewhere.”

11.06am Latest pictures from Christchurch show the army rolling onto the streets:

 

Army, Christchurch

11.03am Police say reports quoting the fire department that rescuers have freed 15 survivors from a collapsed six-storey office building are incorrect. The search for survivors at the CTV building is continuing.

10.53am Queensland’s Urban Search and Rescue Team is leaving for Christchurch today, with technical rescue officers, paramedics and three dogs trained in locating survivors. Chief Superintendent John Cawcutt said: “These dogs can pick up the scent of a person’s breath so they’ll bypass the deceased and go straight for any signs of life.”

10.50am NSW will deploy 200 police officers to Christchurch, leaving on Friday.

10.46am A fire service spokesman comments on the rescue of 15 people found beneath the rubble of the CTV building:

“We’ve got them out of the building and they’re still alive, which was the goal for us, and we’re continuing to search for more.”

10.41am Suncorp, which is scrambling to prepare for a mountain of claims from the earthquake, has reported a massive 39 per cent profit dive today on the back of recent natural disasters in Australia and New Zealand.

Queensland-based Suncorp – one of the largest players in New Zealand’s private insurance market – reported net profit for the six months to December 31 was $223 million, down from $364 million in the previous corresponding period.

10.37am Australia’s breakfast TV shows are facing criticism for their coverage of the earthquake.

Danielle Garland writes on Facebook: Can I ask, WTF breaky TV hosts are doing in Christchurch?? Seriously, like the authorities WANT more people to worry about?? Honestly, their tact is appalling

See more comments on Twitter

10.29am A Brisbane man says he thought he would be buried when the quake hit his office building in Christchurch.

The man, who gave his name only as Tim, told the ABC: “I thought the floors on top of us are going to collapse in. It’s just this blinding intensity that hits you. It’s just this fear, it’s almost like claustrophobia I suppose.

“I just prepared myself to be buried. By miracle, there’s no logic to it, luckily our building doesn’t collapse.”

He’s now thinking of moving his family: “It’s a scary place to be right now and I just don’t know what we’re going to do.”

10.18am NSW firefighters have pulled a woman alive from the ruins of the Pyne Gould building this morning, NZPA reports.

10.10am Rescuers have located and recovered 15 people alive from the CTV (Canterbury Television) building, the Fire Service says.

9.54am Sky News reports three people have been rescued from the PGG (Pyne Gould Guiness) building and rescuers are in contact with others.

9.47am An Australian Air Force Hercules has suffered minor damage in an aftershock after being sent to Christchurch. “A little bit of damage was done,” defence force chief Angus Houston said.

The Hercules was unloading troops and about 20 tonnes of equipment.

9.42am New Zealand Prime Minister John Key has declared a national state of emergency.

9.18am 15 people found alive in “pocket” of collapsed CTV building.

9.16am New figures have just been released by authorities in Christchurch. They say there are 55 bodies in the morgue; 20 more bodies being transported to the morgue and 300 people reported missing.

9.12am A new image from the devastated city of Christchurch shows the ongoing rescue effort today:

 

Christchurch rescuers

9.01am Mayor Bob Parker today described the CTV building where a major rescue effort is under way: “This is a massive building, which is flattened down to less than the space of the ground floor. It’s a terrible site. It’s still on fire.”

Mr Parker was optimistic, however, that more people would still be rescued.

“No matter how hopeless that site may appear, our view is that we’ve got people alive and we’ve got to get them out.”

8.59am Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker says he has visited the CTV building, where more than 100 people are believed to be missing, and saw several bodies being removed.

It’s been several hours on that site since we’ve been able to extract anybody who was alive,” he said.

8.43am Julia Gillard says New Zealand has asked for assistance from the NSW Police to help relieve “hard-pressed” local forces. “We will be doing everything we can to work with our New Zealand family,” she said.

8.39am www.stuff.co.nz reports a temporary mortuary for victims has been moved to the Burnham Military Camp “for capacity reasons”.

8.34am Prime Minister Julia Gillard says an Australian resident believed killed in the earthquake was assisted by a passer-by in the last hours of his life. “Our thanks would go to that stranger and I think that’s an emblem of the kind of spirit that we see in Christchurch as people get together to help each other.”

8.28am Money matters: JP Morgan has warned that the Christchurch quake could be the costliest insured disaster since 2008, Bloomberg reports. Excerpt:

Insured losses from the temblor may be [US]$12 billion, Michael Huttner, an analyst at JPMorgan, said in a note to clients. That would be the most expensive calamity since the $19.9 billion loss from Hurricane Ike, which struck the US in 2008, according to the Insurance Information Institute, a New York- based trade group.

More here.

8.24am The ever-wide-eyed Matt Drudge at The Drudge Report has a link to this story, pointing out in a headline that over 100 pilot whales beached themselves off the south island the day before the quake.

8.12am Prime Minister Julia Gillard says a long-term Australian resident of New Zealand origin – “a family man” – is believed to have died.

8.10am Supt David Cliff, pictured below addressing the media today, spoke of the difficulties of the rescue effort. “We want to systematically go through the city and look in the rubble,” he said. “It has been really heart wrenching – we know there are bodies, we know there are deceased but our priority has to be with the living.”

Supt Russell Gibson said every hour or so rescue workers pull a survivor out of the rubble. “It’s time for celebration for us – the staff are quite euphoric when they manage to get someone out. But unfortunately at the same time we find bodies.”

 

Superintendent Dave Cliff

7.56am Canterbury police district superintendent David Cliff says more than 100 people are still believed to be trapped in the Canterbury Television building, some sending text messages to loved ones overnight. “They were coming from a number of people but it has quietened down, so we not sure if the batteries have gone flat.”

A number of people are also believed to be trapped in the Pyne Gould Corporation building and in Christchurch’s famous cathedral.

7.50am The official death toll stands at 39, with authorities using the number of people who have been formally identified. But Prime Minister John Key said: “Police have said to me there is no indication that the number that they gave to me last night of 65 is inaccurate. If anything it is likely to rise from there.”

7.45am The Australian Government is deploying various forms of assistance to New Zealand:

• 36 NSW Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) staff arrived in New Zealand early today.
• 34 more NSW USAR staff are expected to travel to New Zealand by military aircraft later this morning along with two Emergency Management Australia staff.
• 70 Queensland USAR staff will also travel to Christchurch today.
• An Australian Medical Assistance Team is also expected to deploy today.

7.23am A DFAT spokesperson says: “We have confirmed the safety of more than 400 Australians and are seeking to confirm the status of about 1000 who are known or believed to be in the earthquake-affected area.”

7.19am Consular officials hold grave fears for one long-term Australian resident of New Zealand origin who was in Christchurch at the time of yesterday’s earthquake. DFAT officials say definitive advice on Australian casualties won’t be possible for many days.

7.09am New Zealand Labour party leader Phil Goff says the human cost is “horrendous”.

“You look at CTV (Canterbury Television) and its smouldering ruins, I was told late last night, early this morning, there were 87 people who were in that building, I think only a handful have got out.”

7.04am Christchurch Hospital emergency department head Mike Ardagh says staff worked through the night in the dark because of power cuts. “[It was] pretty unusual circumstances. Everyone rolls their sleeves up and gets on with it.”

More than 200 patients have been admitted, many with lacerations, head injuries and broken bones, but as the night went on patients who had been trapped and had more serious injuries arrived, he told Radio New Zealand.

“We’ve got a number of those sorts of patients where the injuries might be harbouring something more dangerous. Some have sadly died, most of the deaths you will hear in the numbers didn’t come to us at all.”

6.55am The New Zealand Cabinet will meet at 9.30am (7.30am AEDT) to consider declaring a national state of emergency, giving more control of the situation to central government.

6.48am Kristy Clemence, 32, has given a dramatic account of the moment the quake hit and her eventual rescue from the roof of the Pyne Gould Corporation Building. She describes her uncertainty as she lay at a steep angle, under her desk, nzherald.co.nz reports.

“It felt like we could be there for days. I didn’t know if I kept moving, things might start getting worse. I thought I would cause more things to collapse and they could fall on other people. I didn’t know what to do.

“I was able to climb through a hole on the roof. I could see the sky so I just climbed out through that [hole].”

6.28am Police Superintendent Russell Gibson tells of scenes of “absolute carnage” in the centre of Christchurch today:

“There are bodies littering the streets – they’re trapped in cars, crushed under rubble, and where they are clearly deceased our focus unfortunately at this time has turned to the living.”

6.22am Newstalk ZB’s Mike Yardley describes the impact of 23 aftershocks on air this morning:

“It was like the city had been chucked on some perverse rollercoaster that had no destination and no endpoint, and of course we still don’t know where that is or when.”

6.09am Hundreds of rescue workers continued to pull people from the wreckage overnight. This picture, by New Zealand Herald photographer Mark Mitchell, shows a survivor lifted to safety by crane from the wreckage of the Pyne Gould Corporation building:

 

Christchurch rescue

5.48am Police Superintendent Russell Gibson Gibson says the number of trapped “could be another 100, it could easily be more than that” and says the death toll will rise from the 65 given yesterday and revised to an official toll of 38 today. “It will be significantly higher than that.”

More than 500 rescuers, including police and military personnel, pulled between 20 and 30 people from the debris overnight, he said.

“It’s quite amazing, we have some people we’ve pulled out and they haven’t got so much as a scratch on them, we’ve had other people where we’ve had to amputate limbs to get them out.”

5.37am Residents are being told to go to one of six schools in the city – Lyttelton, Redcliffs, South New Brighton, Shirley, Wainoni and Phillipstown – for emergency water supplies.

Mayor Bob Parker said: “We will have tankers on those sites. You will need to think about taking vessels along to collect water.”

5.31am Civil Defence director John Hamilton says search and rescue personnel from Australia have begun to arrive and “will be deployed straight into the city to assist the New Zealand teams”.

“Until we’ve got the search and rescue teams in place, and systematically go through each building, we won’t get an idea of how many people are missing and unaccounted for.”

5.27am The official death toll from the Christchurch earthquake has been revised to 38.

Prime Minister John Key yesterday put the number of dead at 65, but only 38 people have formally been identified he said this morning.

Earlier today Civil Defence director John Hamilton put the number of deaths at 32. “The difference in the number comes around because police need to do victim identification and notify next of kin. The number that they have completed through that process is 32,” he said.

5.24am Search and rescue teams are today focusing on 10 critical buildings where people may be trapped, says Civil Defence director John Hamilton.

Overnight 11 people were pulled from two buildings by rescuers working under floodlights. The PGG building on Cambridge Terrace and the CTV building on the corner of Madras and Cashel Streets were the worst hit following the 6.3 magnitude quake, and “significant” numbers of people were inside.

5.16am A mother died with her baby in her arms when she was hit by falling debris in Christchurch’s Cashel St Mall, stuff.co.nz reports. Passers-by took the child to safety. It was not known how badly it was hurt.

4.30am Civil Defence agency director John Hamilton said this morning the number of confirmed dead in the earthquake was 32 not 65 as Prime Minister John Key said last night.

Speaking to journalists Mr Hamilton said police had confirmed only 32 deaths so far, as had been identified by police, but there were fears the toll could reach as high as 300, Sky News reported.

3.50am People have been pulled alive from collapsed buildings as rescuers have continued to work throughout the night under floodlights.

Police say they are aware of a number of dead bodies in the PGG building on Cambridge Terrace and the CTV building on Madras and Cashel Streets.

3.10am This picture shows Taiwanese emergency search and rescue teams standing for inspection before heading to help devastated Christchurch. Picture Associated Press.

 

news

3.04am An emergency cabinet meeting will be held at 9.30am local time to discuss offers of specialist teams being send from Japan and the United States to help find people buried under the rubble

2.40am New Zealand’s emergency management chief John Hamilton warned rescue teams have a small window of opportunity to recover people trapped by the quake.

We’re reasonably pragmatic and understanding from international experience that there’s a kind of window of opportunity which may only be open for about two or three days to effect a real rescue of people who have been trapped.

2.10am New Zealand Finance Minister Bill English said financial assistance would be available for those with homes devastated by the quake, TVNZ reported.

The station also revealed authorities are working hard to maintain food supply to Christchurch with water supply cut to 80 per cent of the city.

1.43am This video shows the touching reunion as a man who was trapped for five hours is reunited with his mother.

1.32am International flights to Christchurch Airport are likely to be cancelled until at least this afternoon because of damage to the terminals. Airport spokeswoman Monique Oomen told NZPA the domestic and international terminals had been damaged and needed to be checked before regular flights resumed.

12.45pm The Guardian’s live blog reports that British PM, David Cameron, has passed on his condolences to New Zealand’s prime minister, John Key, by text from Kuwait.

12.37pm The Salvation Army says more than 1000 require accommodation in Christchurch tonight. The emergency services coordinator for The Salvation Army in Christchurch, said that The Salvation Army was working as quickly as possible to put teams together, Christian Today reported.

This picture shows hundreds of survivors taking refuge in an evacuation centre that was set up at Hagley Park, picture courtesy of the New Zealand Herald.

 

NZ Quake

12.24pm The Australian has a riveting first-hand account of the quake from survivor Louise Walton:

Straight away, we all went down under the tables; everything started falling, the air-conditioning units started coming out of the ceiling.

12.11pm Stories of touching humanity emerge from the aftermath, @brianedwardsmed tweeted this message today:

Just heard – from total stranger on Twitter – that my daughter and family are ok. He went round to her house for me. Kindness in bad times.

11.43pm At least 120 people have been pulled alive from the rubble, but there’s a report one police officer is missing during the emergency response, Sky News.

11.36pm Police are warning people not to dig through the rubble themselves, 3news.co.nz reports, as at least 80 per cent of Christchurch’s central city is without power.

11.05pm Images taken by New Zealand Herald photographer Mark Mitchell show a city littered with debris from damaged buildings in central Christchurch.

 

christchurch earthquake

Staff prepare to be rescued from a high rise building.

 

christchurch earthquake

The suburb of Bexley has been inundated as a result of the liquefaction caused by the earthquake.

christchurch earthquake

11.02pm This incredible time-lapse map shows the quake and aftershocks and the areas they hit. For the most impressive results change the setting to “last 24 hours”.

10.46pm Google and eq.org.nz have both set up crisis response maps for victims of the quake.

10.27pm Attorney-General, Robert McClelland, has announced Australia will double the number of rescue experts sent to help victims of the quake. A total of 148 Australian Urban Search and Rescue specialists will now be sent to Christchurch at the New Zealand government’s request. Mr McClelland said 74 specialists were already being deployed from NSW, while an additional 74 from Queensland would be sent tomorrow morning.

10.18pm Facebook has set up a website to help “Earthquake Stricken Cantabrians” find accommodation.

10.13pm Australian Seismological Centre director Kevin McCue said the tremor could increase pressure on plate boundaries across New Zealand, increasing the likelihood of a tremor elsewhere, particularly in the capital Wellington. “If you have one (quake) it ups the hazard,” he told the New Zealand Herald. “This quake has the potential to load up the plate boundary, increasing the likelihood of a quake at Wellington.”

9.57pm The Queen is reportedly “utterly shocked” by the Christchurch earthquake. News agency PA reports her statement read:

My thoughts are with all those who have been affected by this dreadful event. My thoughts are also with the emergency services and everyone who is assisting in the rescue efforts.

9.46pm Christchurch has been rocked by 20 aftershocks since the 6.3 quake and University of Melbourne seismologist Gary Gibson said they were likely to continue for weeks, gradually lessening in intensity over time.

9.12pm Incredible rescue images of a man lowering himself from a high-rise building in Christchurch from Channel 9 tonight:

christchurch earthquake

christchurch earthquake

8.44pm The first of two Royal Australian Air Force C-130 Hercules aircraft carrying 40 search and rescue specialists and 10 tonnes or cargo is on its way to New Zealand. The Australian Defence Force said the planes left the RAAF base at Richmond, in Sydney’s northwest, at 8pm (AEDT) to help with the search and rescue efforts. Another 30 specialists and 20 tonnes of cargo is due to leave the Richmond base for Christchurch tomorrow morning.

8.38pm There have been reports the Canterbury Television (CTV) building was on fire with people still trapped in the rubble, MSN NZ reports.

8.12pm At least 100 people remain trapped in the ruins of Christchurch tonight, the New Zealand Herald reports, as New Zealand’s TV3 has quoted unconfirmed reports the death toll could reach between 200 and 300.

7.59pm Australian authorities have reminded people concerned about relatives or friends to try to contact them directly. If they cannot be reached, a 24-hour consular emergency hotline, 1300 555 135, is available. Australians in New Zealand can contact consular officials on +612 6261 3305 or the high commission on +64 4473 6411.

7.54pm Fears are growing for at least seven Japanese language students and their teacher who are believed trapped under rubble. Officials at the Toyama College of Foreign Languages say a teacher had contacted her family by SMS, saying she was trapped with seven students, and the family had not heard from her since.

7.51pm Rescuers are focusing on high rise buildings in the central business district, many of which were extensively damaged. They include:
The Pyne Gould Guinness building, which has tilted at an awkward angle and slumped to the ground with 30 people thought to be inside
The Christchurch Press building, opposite Christchurch Cathedral, where people are trapped under desks
The Canterbury TV building, where fatalities have been reported
The Forsyth Barr Tower, which lost its stairs, so those trapped high above ground have been lifted out by crane
People are also feared trapped in city hotels.

7.49pm Civil Defence director John Hamilton says rescuers will work throughout the night in miserable weather looking for survivors.

7.36pm Australian tourists Gwendoline and Ian Robinson were halfway through their lunchtime bagels when the windows in the Christchurch cafe began shattering. Mrs Robinson told stuff.co.nz:

Things started sliding and you could hear it crashing and you looked around and things were just falling everywhere so it was just really strange. You were being shaken backwards and forwards, side to side … everything was moving in different directions.

6.56pm Between 150 and 200 people may still be trapped in earthquake-damaged buildings in Christchurch, the city’s mayor Bob Parker says.

6.53pm This amazing video footage shows Christchurch before and after it was hit by the devastating quake.

6.36pm Prime Minister Julia Gillard says the relatives of the 8000 Australians known to be in the Canterbury area should prepare for the worst.

6.29pm Sydney doctor David Malouf, in Christchurch for a conference with about 400 other Australian doctors, has told of his experience:

The noise was incredible. I don’t understand what made that noise but it was like a jet engine outside. The whole building started to shake, violently shaking to the point where, if you were trying to stand up, you would fall over. The doctors made their way to the hotel foyer, which was covered in glass and pieces of the ceiling, before they walked through the shattered front windows and onto the street. There were just people slowly filing out of buildings with this sort of look of bewilderment on their face. People were very distressed. What was really quite disturbing was water coming out of the ground. Lakes were just appearing in the middle of the street.

6.01pm The earthquake has caused some 30 million tonnes of ice to break off from New Zealand’s biggest glacier. Tour guides at the Tasman Glacier in the Southern Alps say the quake caused the ice to “calve” from the glacier, forming icebergs in the terminal lake. Picture: AP

 

Iceberg

5.52pm Trapped in a collapsed office building, bleeding as she waits to be rescued, Australian woman Anne Voss has spoken to the Seven Network on her mobile phone:

I was sitting at my desk, and I went under my desk and the ceiling collapsed on top of the desk.So I’m sort of squashed underneath. I haven’t been able to move really.

5.49pm This description comes from city councilman Barry Corbett, who was on one of the top floors of the city council building when the quake struck:

When the shaking had stopped I looked out of the window, which gives a great view onto Christchurch, and there was just dust. It was evident straight away that a lot of buildings had gone.

5.43pm A spokewoman for Christchurch Airport has confirmed the airport is to remain closed tonight night to all but emergency and aid flights NZPA reported. It is hoped domestic flights can resume tomorrow morning at 10am (AEDT) and confirmation of that will be given at 8am. Flights elsewhere in New Zealand resumed about 2.30pm after they were shut down for about an hour.

5.09pm Christchurch Hospital is bracing for a sudden increase in new babies as women go into premature labour brought on by a massive earthquake, NZPA reports.

4.40pm Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd says DFAT has been inundated with calls to its helpline, with 2000 calls within the first few hours. He’s reminded concerned Australians to first try contacting their loved one directly, before calling DFAT. He says 8000 Australians are estimated to be in the region at the moment.

4.34pm This photo filed by Getty Images shows crushed cars in a carpark building in Christchurch:

cars in christchurch

4.24pm BULLETIN: NZ PRIME MINISTER JOHN KEY SAYS AT LEAST 65 PEOPLE ARE DEAD.

The death toll I have at the moment is 65 and that may rise. So it’s an absolute tragedy for this city, for New Zealand, for the people that we care so much about. It’s a terrifying time for the people of Canterbury.

4.15pm Authorities say a woman seen sheltering in a window of the Christchurch cathedral in television footage screened earlier today was rescued, and suffered a broken arm.

4.11pm Seventeen people have been confirmed dead, New Zealand’s Civil Defence director John Hamilton says.

4.02pm This multimedia map details the location and anatomy of the earthquake as it struck.

3.53pm This blog post by tectonics geologist Chris Rowan compares last September’s quake in Christchurch with the latest, and explains why the effects of today’s quake were so much more severe. Excerpts:

The proximity of the rupture, combined with the fact that many buildings in Christchurch had unrepaired damage from September’s earthquake, the timing (in the middle of the day rather than the middle of the night) and the ever-looming spectre of liquefaction, which severely magnifies the effects of shaking, have sadly resulted in collapsed buildings, and at least some casualties.

The other thing worth noting is that today’s rupture occurred in a region of crust that, according to modelling, saw a significant stress change in the crust as a result of last September’s earthquake. This seems unlikely to be a coincidence. We’re looking at a grey area between an ‘aftershock’ and a ‘triggered earthquake’ …

More (very scientific) reading here.

3.38pm Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd has told the National Press Club this is a “horrible time” for the people of Christchurch:

The damage is large, it’s the middle of the working day, and the earthquake has not been deep from the surface. For the people of Christchurch this just isn’t fair.

3.34pm National political editor Malcolm Farr reports from Canberra:

Julia Gillard ends Question Time and reveals 40 NSW rescue workers are on a RAAF aircraft on their was to the New Zealand quake zone.

Queensland and South Australian emergency specialists have also volunteered.

The PM said latest news was not good, with reports of damage to tourist areas and a youth hostel.

More from Malcolm Farr today in Canberra.

3.29pm Aerial views from helicopters over Christchurch are revealing the extent of the devastation in central Christchurch. Entire office blocks have fallen over, facades of churches have collapsed, there are streets full of water from liquefaction and burst water mains. Emergency services can be seen on rooftops trying to break into buildings where people are believed trapped. The anchors on New Zealand’s TV3 news are clearly rattled by what they are seeing.

3.26pm A delegation of nine members of the US Congress visiting Christchurch are reported to be safe.

3.10pm There are reports of emotional rescues taking place across the city. “They are going to come and get you down. Just keep away from the edge,” a woman yelled to a distraught colleague trapped on the top level of what used to be a four-storey building. The woman was rescued by firefighters on a crane, hugging her colleagues as she reached the ground.

3.06pm New Zealand police have set up a page with their latest information on the Canterbury Earthquake.

3.05pm The NZ Herald has a guide to affected infrastructure in Christchurch. Inner-city residents are being asked to save water, some roads are impassable and power is being slowly restored to the city. Read on here.

2.36pm Julia Gillard says it’s too early to say how many Australians were in Christchurch, but the national women’s cricket team, which has been training there, are safe. “We’ve got no reports at this stage of Australian fatalities,” she says.

2.29pm Christchurch’s mayor has declared a state of emergency, saying it was a “black day” for the city.

2.22pm Australia has sent a search and rescue team to Christchurch. Prime Minister Julia Gillard has spoken directly with NZ Prime Minister John Key and Australia would provide any assistance requested. She told parliament the images from Christchurch were “truly shocking”:

People wandering around with blood literally streaming across their heads and faces. Images of buildings that have been reduced to rubble…

2.17pm TV3 reports bodies have been seen coming out of a YHA hostel.

2.16pm A map pulled together by Paul Nicholls of the University of Canterbury’s Digital Media Group in Christchurch shows the spreading intensity of the earthquake. A picture follows but you can see the full animation at the website.

 

Christchurch intensity

2.04pm Google has launched a “person finder” tool for the Christchurch earthquake which starts with a simple question – “what is your situation?” – and the options are either that you’re looking for someone or have information about someone. See it here.

1.56pm A passenger on board a plane that landed in Christchurch as the quake hit has described seeing the terminal shuddering on the ground. Also:

Auckland Airport spokesman Richard Llewellyn said the airways system around the country was closed shortly after the 6.3 magnitude earthquake struck just after 1pm local time (11am AEDT).

“For the moment planes are landing but no planes are departing,” Mr Llewellyn said.

Christchurch Airport remains closed and was evacuated following the earthquake.

More in our travel section.

1.46pm The before-and-after interactive slider below shows how Christchurch Cathedral looks after its spire, which stands over 63m above the square, has been reduced to a stump.

 

Christchurch Cathedral before the February 22, 2011 quake

Before
Christchurch Cathedral after the February 22, 2011 earthquake

After
handle

1.30pm The NZ dollar has dropped heavily on the currency markets. More from Bloomberg.

1.24pm This amazing description of the scene in Christchurch has just been filed into the online coverage of NZ’s National Business Review. Their reporter Chris Hutching phoned into the newsroom – here are some edited extracts of what he said:

“Mate, this is chaos … it’s incredible … I’m in the middle of town now … This time people have been killed … I have just been ordered off the scene of one collapsed building where the police told me there were dead people underneath … Police got very upset when I started taking photos of this building … they ran over and said here was a dead person under there … There is a fire in a building at the corner of Armagh and Hereford Sts and they have helicopters going over with monsoon buckets … the Hotel Grand Chancellor, a 24 level building completed in 1990 – one corner of it appears to have collapsed … It’s one of the tallest buildings in Christchurch. It will have to come down … Going around, any brick building that survived the last one is rooted.”

More here.

1.04pm Facebook links…. there is a Christchurch Quake live page with updates from people on the ground and people seeking information on loved ones. Also if you are looking to contact loved ones you can try the #eqnzContact hashtag on Twitter.

12.57pm New Zealand’s National Business Review reports on the government response:

Prime Minister John Key will fly to Christchurch immediately after an emergency Cabinet meeting at 3pm, conditions permitting.

The Civil Defence bunker in the Beehive had been activated, but details of the damage in Christchurch remained extremely “sketchy” as communication with Christchurch Civil Defence was limited following the quake, he said.

Mr Key said fatalities could not yet be ruled out.

“Details are sketchy. But the worrying fear is that this earthquake has taken place at a time when Cantabrians were going about their business, a very populated time with people at work, children at school.”

More here.

12.50pm Link to the USGS report on the quake, which puts it at 5.6 on the Richter scale and at 6.7km below the surface. There are also maps, graphs and other data at the link.

12.41pm The NZ Herald reports Vodafone are asking people to refrain from making calls and send text messages instead.

12.23pm Also from the NZ Herald – police have called in defence forces to help evacuate the CBD and stricken residents.

12.21pm From the NZ Herald’s Twitter feed:

Fire Service has just confirmed to RadioNZ that there have been deaths in Christchurch.

12.16pm BULLETIN: New Zealand quake causes multiple fatalities and building collapses: police

12.07pm NZ Prime Minister John Key said in Parliament that he could not rule out fatalities. There are unconfirmed reports in local media that bodies have been found. Also NZPA just reported:

Civil Defence Minister John Carter said there had been unconfirmed reports of fatalities.

11.58am Sky News NZ quotes the civil defence minister as saying there are unconfirmed reports of fatalities. Several witnesses on the streets reported people injured in their offices when the quake struck just after 1pm local time (11am AEDT).

11.56am Christchurch airport has been closed.

Earlier “You can see cars rocking as they go down the road,” Sky News correspondent Kate King reports.

“I saw the ground role up in front of me. It lasted for about 20 to 30 seconds.”

King said she saw fresh cracks appear in the road and “waterfalls of water” streaming as they pushed out of the ground.

“It’s fair to say I’m a bit scared. There are people hugging each other. It’s quite traumatic. Quite a lot of these people have lost a lot financially and mentally.”

The shock measured 6.3 on the Richter scale.

Christchurch was rocked by a 7.1 earthquake in September last year causing widespread destruction.

This aftershock is the most severe of the thousands of aftershocks since then.

Local reports say buildings and houses had collapsed all around the city centre and the city’s iconic cathedral had been destroyed.

Christchurch Hospital was being evacuated, a spokeswoman for the hospital said.

Witnesses have told local reporters there would be “deaths” this time.

Power was out in the city and phone lines were down.

“It was incredibly violent, very very scary,” one visitor to the city, Philip Gregan told AAP over the phone.

“We’re all standing out on the street with sirens going off around us.

“Oh no, there’s another one,” he said while on the phone.

“I want to get out of here.”

Auckland GNS Science said the quake was centred at Lyttelton at a depth of 5km.

The New Zealand Herald reported that the jolt was felt in the capital Wellington to the north and the city of Dunedin to the south.

Residents say it lasted about a minute.

Tarmac on the road was cracked and water mains had burst, flooding the streets with water.

Christchurch was hit with a devastating magnitude 7.1 on September 4 last year.

The epicentre was 40km west of Christchurch at a depth of 10km.

The city, New Zealand’s third largest, has been shaking regularly since, with aftershocks up to 5.1 magnitude recorded.

The mayor of a New Zealand city rattled by a 6.3 magnitude earthquake says there are reports of serious injuries from the temblor.

Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker says Tuesday’s quake left people in the city council building injured, and he’s heard reports of other serious injuries throughout the city.

The US Geological Survey said the temblor was centred five kilometres from the city at a depth of four kilometres.
Christchurch has been hit by hundreds of aftershocks since a 7.1 magnitude earthquake struck on September 4 last year, causing extensive damage and a handful of injuries, but no deaths.

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