President Tan praises efforts to rebuild Christchurch

President Tony Tan Keng Yam (far left) paying his respects to victims of the 2011 earthquake at the Canterbury Television site. With him are (from left) Mrs Mary Tan, Acting Education Minister Ong Ye Kung, and MPs Vikram Nair and Sun Xueling.
President Tony Tan Keng Yam (far left) paying his respects to victims of the 2011 earthquake at the Canterbury Television site. With him are (from left) Mrs Mary Tan, Acting Education Minister Ong Ye Kung, and MPs Vikram Nair and Sun Xueling.PHOTO: MINISTRY OF COMMUNICATIONS AND INFORMATION

Devastated in large parts by a 6.3-magnitude earthquake four years ago, the city of Christchurch is slowly getting back on its feet.

Yesterday, President Tony Tan Keng Yam arrived in the city amid rain to learn about its ongoing rebuilding works.

He had flown in from Wellington for this second leg of his state visit to New Zealand to see the city that Singapore helped in the immediate rescue efforts

As rain fell, he laid a wreath at the former Canterbury Television building, where 115 people died in the earthquake.

The site has been cleared and is one of many empty lots in the city centre, quiet even in the day. Several damaged buildings still stand vacant. Across the street, 185 empty white chairs are laid out on a green lawn in a poignant art installation, one for each quake victim.

When the earthquake struck Christchurch unexpectedly in 2011, Singapore promptly sent a 55-member search-and-rescue team and 116 soldiers to the city of 380,000 people.

Singaporean pilots and ground crew also evacuated more than 160 civilians and airlifted nearly 50 tonnes of relief aid.

Dr Tan and his delegation were shown the rebuilding projects around the city centre by the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority. These included new commercial buildings being constructed and a newly completed bus interchange.

Earlier, at a lunch hosted by mayor Lianne Dalziel, the delegation learnt about the city's rebuilding efforts and discussed developments in Singapore and Christchurch.

Dr Tan wrote on Facebook that he was heartened by the resilience shown by the people of Christchurch in the rebuilding process. "They are a great example of a community that rallies together in difficult times," he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 29, 2015, with the headline 'President Tan praises efforts to rebuild Christchurch'. Print Edition | Subscribe