Monday, February 21, 2011

Christchurch Central CityImage via Wikipedia  Has been badly damaged...
Another massive earthquake hits beautiful Christchurch in NZ...

Prime Minister John Key says 65 people are dead following a 6.3 magnitude earthquake in Christchurch and the death toll is expected to rise.

"We may be witnessing New Zealand's darkest day," he said.

The final number of fatalities may not be known for several days until all the buildings in the city and surrounding areas have been searched.

Hundreds of people remain trapped in collapsed buildings around Christchurch and many won’t make it out tonight as search and rescue crews struggle to cope.

Makeshift hospitals have been set up at triage centres across the city and many people who can’t get home have flocked to Hagley Park. But they have little shelter, water or food.

Thousands of others are wandering the rubble-strewn streets, many searching for loved ones and trying to reach trapped people and the suburbs of Lyttleton and New Brighton are now reportedly "unliveable".

No part of the central city is untouched by the earthquake. Several buildings have completely collapsed and two buses have been crushed by falling buildings.

The seven-storey Canterbury Television building has been levelled and at least one person is still trapped inside. A staff member who managed to escape the building said the earthquake was terrifying. ‘I thought I was going to die.’

At least one person is confirmed dead and more than 30 are trapped in the Pyne Gould Guinness Building, an office block in central Christchurch.

Christchurch’s 110-year-old cathedral is in ruins.

PHOTOS: Earthquake hits Christchurch
Witnesses have said the quake, which struck just before 1pm, was worse than September’s 7.1 magnitude earthquake in the region and it has caused widespread damage.

The quake reportedly lasted about a minute and was extremely violent, causing major buildings to rock back and forth.

Tarmac on the roads have cracked and water mains have reportedly burst.

Phone lines are down and calls are not being connected to emergency services. Several people interviewed in the cental city are distressed because they can't contact their children or other family members.

Sky News has been reporting live from Christchurch and is screening chaotic scenes, with panicked people and crying schoolgirls running through the streets.

A witness told the cameras the earthquake felt much worse than September’s 7.1 magnitude earthquake.

"It was just so strong. It was hideous."

There have already been more than 20 aftershocks and Civil Defence is warning residents to expect more.

Water and sewage is pouring down the city streets and phones and power are out.

The defence force are sending personnel to Canterbury today to help with the disaster.

Triage centres have been established for people with injuries at: Latimer Square, Central City; Spotlight Mall, Sydenham; Sanitarium, Papanui. Police advise that people who have evacuated their homes or buildings should report to their nearest Civil Defence sector post - usually schools. People from as far as Wellington and Dunedin have tweeted they also felt the quake.

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