WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — The New Zealand city of Christchurch unveiled a national memorial Wednesday to commemorate the 185 people who died in an earthquake six years ago.
Prime Minister Bill English joined other dignitaries to unveil the memorial wall on the anniversary of the 2011 quake.
“The earthquake, we saw so dramatically, took lives, destroyed homes, toppled workplaces, and ruined livelihoods,” English said.
“As the horror and fear of those days retreat further into our past, this memorial will endure as a place of peace, a symbol of our love and respect for those who have gone,” he said.
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English welcomed the families of victims from other nations, some of whom traveled to New Zealand for the unveiling.
Clad with more than 500 Italian marble panels, the wall stretches 112 meters (370 feet) along the banks of the Avon River.
The names of those who died have been written across a 40-meter section of the wall, which bereaved families got a chance to view during a private ceremony Tuesday.
Designed by Slovenian architect Grega Vezjak, the memorial cost 11 million New Zealand dollars ($7.9 million), most of it paid for by the government.
The memorial is named Oi Manawa, which means “the tremor of the heart” in the country’s indigenous Maori language.