Queenstown man shakin’ all over

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Queenstown structural engineer John Trowsdale was thrown against a perimeter fence during the second big aftershock in Christchurch yesterday (Monday). 

Trowsdale has been project director for the restoration of the historic Christchurch Arts Centre buildings since February’s disastrous quake. 

He was inspecting the north side of the Great Hall following Monday’s first aftershock when the follow-up shake – today re-rated a 6.3 quake by GNS Science – struck. 

“I got thrown against the perimeter fence,” Trowsdale says. “The ground movement was really significant. 

“Looking at the north elevation of the Great Hall, it was swinging backwards and forwards and I thought we were going to lose it.” 

Trowsdale, who was uninjured, says there’s been “quite a bit of significant further damage” to the Arts Centre. 

“We’ve lost a bit of the Clock Tower face and just a little bit further, had very significant gables collapse – with maybe a couple of tonnes of stone and rock on the ground that was previously part of the building.” 

He estimates Arts Centre restoration work has been set back six to eight weeks by yesterday’s quakes. 

Trowsdale is already resigned to more aftershocks following Monday’s shakes: “It’s going to re-kick off the after-shock sequence that’s part and parcel of working in this environment.” 

In the immediate aftermath of February’s quake, Trowsdale – joined by three Queenstown Holmes Consulting engineers – hot-footed it to the city. 

He worked virtually non-stop for five days with fellow Urban Search & Rescue taskforce members trying to recover bodies from the collapsed CTV building.