WELLINGTON, New Zealand — More than 10,000 New Zealanders stood in silence, some in tears, at a Christchurch park Wednesday while police officers and firefighters read out the names of all 185 people who died in a devastating earthquake one year ago.
The reading was followed by two minutes of silence at 12:51 p.m., the minute the magnitude-6.1 quake struck. It destroyed thousands of homes and much of downtown Christchurch, causing 30 billion dollars ($25 billion) in damage by the government's estimate.
The ceremony at North Hagley Park, which included speeches and songs, was part of a day of remembrances taking place across the country. Police spokesman Stephen Hill said the emergency services representatives who read the names had been involved in rescue efforts.
Earlier, a memorial for the families of those who died was held in Christchurch's Latimer Square. People across the city tossed flowers into the Avon River to remember those who died, while children at the park released 185 monarch butterflies.
Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker told the crowd at the park that the city would never be the same again. He said people disagree about how the city should be rebuilt, but that one day it will again be a great place to live and work.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who had visited Christchurch a few months before the quake, sent a video message that was played to the crowd.
"Even those of us who were far away on that terrible day share in your grief. And we know it's been a struggle," she said. "But through that struggle we've seen the strength and perseverance of the people of Christchurch."