CHRISTCHURCH: All members of the Pakistan cricket team are safe in Nelson after an earthquake of high intensity hit New Zealand, their manager Wasim Bari has confirmed. Pakistan were in Nelson to play a three-day tour game before the first Test, scheduled to begin in Christchurch on November 17. The epicentre of the quake was 200km away, also on the South Island, but it was so strong – 7.4 on Richter Scale – that tremors were felt across the country. The Pakistan women’s team, who are also touring New Zealand, was even closer, staying on the 13th floor of a hotel in Christchurch. Basit Ali, their manager, told Geo News that they were all safe but “still scared”. The earthquake struck late on Sunday evening. “We felt the first tremors around 11.30pm,” Bari, the former Pakistan wicket keeper, told media. “Some of the boys were in prayer, some were watching the India-England Test on TV when we felt the windows shake. The whole room began to shake. We were on the sixth and seventh floor, and evacuated immediately. The hotel staff was very helpful. We are all safe.”
By around 1am on Monday morning, having walked around outdoors for a bit, the team moved back to the reception. They had not yet got the clearance to go back up to the higher floors. “There have been aftershocks too,” Bari said. The east coast of New Zealand’s South Island is on a tsunami alert with people being asked to move either inland or to higher buildings if they can’t travel inland. Nelson is at the northern tip of the South Island, but the Pakistan team remains aware of the tsunami risk. Pakistan were supposed to travel to Christchurch on Monday, but their plans are now uncertain. This being the middle of the night, there had been no communication between the Pakistan team and the NZC, but NZC’s liaison officer has been with the team through the ordeal, Bari said. The epicentre of the earthquake was at a depth of about 5km, about 40km from the town of Amberley, which in turn is only about 90km north-north-east of Christchurch, which was devastated by an earthquake in 2011. Whether the city will be able to host the Test beginning on Thursday will only be known once the damage is assessed properly on Monday morning.