Ken Ring's Christchurch earthquake claims 'terrifying' people

STACEY WOOD AND KIRSTY JOHNSTON
Last updated 05:00 17/03/2011
Ken Ring
KEN RING: Caused nationwide controversy when he predicted a massive quake would take place in Christchurch on March 20.

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Counsellors treating traumatised quake survivors in Christchurch say Ken Ring's "predictions" are terrifying even the most rational of people.

Mr Ring, who used to read pets' paws for a living, caused nationwide controversy this month when he predicted a massive quake would take place in Christchurch on March 20.

His claims that the moon's tides can affect when major earthquakes will strike are not supported by seismologists or scientists.

Yesterday, the prime minister's chief science adviser, Peter Gluckman, said Mr Ring's claims were causing further "disharmony" for Christchurch residents.

"There is no added risk on March 20 or any other day," Sir Peter said. "The pattern of aftershocks of low magnitude will continue on March 20 and most days for the next two weeks."

Lynette Hutson, of the Salvation Army, who has been co-ordinating the charity's 130-member counselling team in Christchurch, said Mr Ring's claims had shaken the most rational people.

"Even people who would normally discard it or say it's only superstition are becoming extremely fearful. People are planning to be gone, they're making plans to get out of town."

Major Hutson said all counsellors could do was listen to people's fears and try to put them in perspective.

"You can't tell them it's not going to happen, because anything could happen – the evidence is in the environment.

"But it's like anything – you could get hit by a bus but you don't live in constant fear of it. You just have to try to go on as normal."

It was "very unfortunate" Mr Ring had gone public with his predictions, she said. "If you give him the benefit of the doubt, it could be he just didn't think it through, but it's certainly done the harm now."

Scientists have said aftershocks will continue to decline in frequency and intensity, but may be erratic for some time.

Sir Peter said that despite the massive 9.0 magnitude quake in Japan last week, earthquakes globally were not increasing in frequency.

Worldwide, there was one magnitude 8 quake each year, and one magnitude 7 every three weeks.

In New Zealand, there were two magnitude 6 quakes each year and a magnitude 5 every two weeks. Smaller earthquakes were a daily occurrence.

To back up his point, he said that Christchurch had endured many earthquakes before, and that the spire of Christ Church Cathedral had fallen off four times in the past 130 years.

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There had been no change in that pattern and there was no relation between the Japanese and Christchurch earthquakes, he said.

Mr Ring did not answer calls from The Dominion Post yesterday.

- The Dominion Post

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