Garden gnomes homeless after earthquake

RNW archive

This article is part of the RNW archive. RNW is the former Radio Netherlands Worldwide or Wereldomroep, which was founded as the Dutch international public broadcaster in 1947. In 2011, the Dutch government decided to cut funding and shift RNW from the ministry of Education, Culture and Science to the ministry of Foreign Affairs. More information about RNW Media’s current activities can be found at

The Netherlands has been struck by an earthquake. A real one. With a 4.5 magnitude on the Richter scale, the tremor frightened many people and animals in the southeast of the country for a second or two. Twitter is brimming with messages from people sharing their "shocking" experiences after the light quake.

Think of an earthquake and you think of tsunamis. Immediately after the disaster on Thursday evening there were fears of a catastrophic flood. As Koningin_NL ("Queen NL") tweeted, "The Royal Water Manager has issued a tsunami warning for the Giese Lake near Rheden. Don't go outside unless you're wearing rubber boots." The tsunami warning was later withdrawn.

Animal suffering
The final toll has not been established. It is assumed that there are at least three fatalities: two china garden gnomes owned by @Tienerzin, and the budgie of a Nijmegen woman. A fourth victim, a parrot in Wehl, took ill after falling off his stick. It is unclear whether he will recover. Aid to the victims is slow in coming, @Tienerzin tweeted.

Animals' sixth sense for impending catastrophes was illustrated by Tosca Plate's dramatic experiences. Speaking to De Telegraaf daily from her Nijmegen home, she said, "My budgies felt it coming. They had been restless for days. Yesterday morning one of them had died, and after the quake the other ones were clinging to the bars of the cage. I guess they were scared."

The end
The disaster which unfolded 40 km east of Nijmegen was felt by many people. Shocked reactions poured in from all over the country. @Dexhendriks tweeted, "What do you say? Earthquake in the Netherlands? And 2012 is coming closer too? Maya calender, anyone? #endoftheworld". Another twitterer, Kasper, was confused by the quake. "For one moment I thought I felt a tremor, but no, it was the Randstad metro once again."

International aid
The Dutch expressed their disappointment in the way the rest of the world reacted. Foreign media are barely reporting the tragedy which hit Holland so hard. People are desperately wondering whether anyone is collecting money to help the victims. As Kaj Leers tweeted, "So what about solidarity, Haiti?" Fortunately @Koningin_NL had a royal piece of reassurance: "Do not fear, my fellow citizens. We were just on the phone to the President of Haiti and they have begun a national collection."

The cause of the quake disaster is the source of much speculation. Researchers at the KNMI meteorological office think that the explanation may be found in a tweet by @sredlums, "Sorry about that minor quake, folks. #nomorebrownbeansforme".

Whatever the explanation, 8 September will never be the same.