This is a copy of the email that I wrote to the Conlang List this evening:

Hello Everybody,

Please let me apologize for my tardiness in replying. I was house-sitting for a friend away for four weeks in Beijing and had set my account to nomail while I was away.

I do live in Dunedin. I felt the earth shiver. This was better than Christchurch at the same time where it toppled a Cathedral spire. I am more concerned for Wesley Parrish whom I believe does live in Christchurch. It may be some time before we hear from him as telephone lines are broken. I hate to contemplate Conlanger Down.

The death toll stands at 75, 20 unidentified, 300 missing. There are 7 sites where teams are still searching. Sadly the CTV Building, Canterbury Television, has been abandoned as too unstable. I think the bodies in there could be between 30-50 people. Another building, Pine Gould Guiness building looks like a crashed Star Destroyer yet they pulled out two more survivors today.

I was at a public seminar today. A Scottish professor who addressed us said his wife had been watching BBC which was showing the tragedy. Local media is showing the humanity and the restraint. A survivor coming out of a building was asked what it was like in there. Well, it’s not good, he said in the kind of tone I would only expect on Flight of the Concords.

Finest moment I’ve seen on television was doctors from Melbourne in Christchurch for a conference running to assist in the disaster. Humanity at its best. Ozzies can hug a medic for me.

Several historic buildings have been damaged. The saddest I’ve heard was the unconfirmed loss of the Lyttleton Timekeepers Tower. That upset me more than the damage to Christchurch Cathedral or the loss of Durham Street Methodist Church.

I think donations are best made to Red Cross and possibly earmarked for the Christchurch Earthquake. They are already in the city. I understand #eqnz is very busy on Twitter. I’m amazed at the activity on the internet. I was following it on facebook yesterday at work. We truly live in a new world.