Live updates after many die in a major quake in
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2.53am: The city council says 220 Search and Rescue personnel (USAR) will be deployed in Christchurch by midday. As many as 700 Search and Rescue personnel may be deployed within 48 hours.
2.51am: Two welfare centres are currently open, Christchurch City Council says. Hagley Park has 250 people and Burnside High has 700 people.
2.46am: British Prime Minister David Cameron has sent his condolences to John Key by text. Cameron is currently in Kuwait during a tour of the Middle East.
2.38am: The Ministry of Education has urged schools to remain closed today. An update on school closures was expected to be made at 1pm.
2.28am: Sports stars continue to send messages of support to the people of Christchurch. Lance Armstrong, the seven-times winner of the Tour de France, posted on Twitter: "Thoughts go out to the people of Christchurch, NZ after the massive earthquake yesterday. Wishing you all the best."
2.20am: International Cricket Council chief executive Haroon Lorgat said a gesture of respect would be made when the Black Caps play Australia in the Cricket World Cup in Nagpur on Friday.
2.15am: The hotline number for people overseas calling about loved ones is +64 7 850 2199.
2.02am: Christchurch Airport will remain closed until further notice. It is hoped that domestic flights will resume at 8am. An update on all international flights will be issued at around midday today. At this stage the airport is only being used for emergency flights only.
1.58am: Aftershocks continue to be recorded in
Canterbury. The latest was at 1:21am at a 3.9 magnitude, 10km
south-east of Christchurch.
1.55am: Orion CEO Roger Sutton says it could be a few days before the whole of Christchurch gets its power back on.
1.35am: Telecom says that from 3am today, 280 payphones in and around Christchurch will be have free calling for local, national and mobile calls.
1.25am: Search and rescue teams are working through the night to dig out survivors.
1.10am: A woman has spoken of the death of her nine-month-old grandson in today's quake. She said she was "blown away" by the support offered by strangers after a television fell on her son. "This is going to be a rough ride," the woman told Newstalk ZB.
1.02am: The current temperature in Christchurch is 12 degrees Celsius. The maximum predicted temperature today is 18 degrees Celsius, MetService said.
1.01am: There has been no change to the number of people confirmed dead in the earthquake. The number remains at 65.
12.45am: People with medical needs are advised to go to the 24-hour surgery on Bealey Avenue.
12.35am: Ten Christchurch earthquake victims have been transferred to Auckland as Christchurch Hospital intensive care unit makes space for an expected influx of seriously injured people in the coming days.
12.25am: Australia is doubling the number of rescue experts sent to help. A total of 148 Australian Urban Search and Rescue specialists were being sent to Christchurch. Seventy-four specialists have been deployed from New South Wales while an extra 74 from Queensland would be sent today.
12.19am: Christchurch Hospital's emergency department was extremely busy, but staff were coping admirably, Canterbury District Health Board chief executive officer David Meates said. Ten additional nurses have arrived from Ashburton with further staff due to arrive overnight from neighbouring DHBs.
12.09am: The Queen has sent a message of
support to John Key in which she said she was "utterly shocked" by
the news of the earthquake. "Please convey my deep sympathy to the
friends of those who have been killed; my thoughts are with all those who have been affected by this dreadful event," she said.
12.02am: A telephone number has been set up to deal with those people concerned about the whereabouts of friends and family. Callers to the line will be asked to provide details of those missing including the location the person was thought to be at the time of the earthquake. The number to contact is 0800 RED CROSS (0800 733 276).
11.54pm: Lyttelton Tunnel remains closed for non-emergency traffic pending a further detailed safety assessment.
11.42pm: Some children have had to stay at their schools with their teachers.
11.36pm: Christchurch International Airport remains open for emergency flights only.
11.29pm: There will be uninterrupted coverage of the Christchurch quake on TV ONE's Breakfast from 6am to midday tomorrow.
11.28pm: Aftershocks are continuing to be recorded in Canterbury. The latest was at 11.05pm at a magnitude 4.0, 10km south-west of Christchurch at a depth of 9km.
11.20pm: Mayor Bob Parker said there were a large number of people who were fighting for their lives tonight.
11.19pm: Federated Farmers says that no dairy milking seems to have been affected by the quake. Farmers who need help can call 0800 327 646 (0800 FARMING).
11.16pm: There is significant roading damage in Christchurch. Mayor Bob Parker has repeated his appeal for people to stay off the roads.
11.15pm: "We have a significant death toll here in the city," said Mayor Bob Parker.
11.13pm: Pumping systems have been destroyed and reservoirs have been shut down.
11.10pm: At least 120 people have been rescued to date, Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker said.
11.10pm: There have been reports of petrol running out in Christchurch.
11.09pm: Christchurch Hospital is dealing with cases that include spinal injuries plus cardiac and chest problems, Canterbury District Health Board said.
11.06pm: The confirmed death toll remains at 65.
11.05pm: Anyone who needs emergency assistance and accommodation overnight is urged to go to Burnside High School. A secondary welfare centre is also at Hagley Park North.
10.55pm: One part of Christchurch Hospital has been badly damaged.
10.52pm: Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has said that Australians could be among those killed or injured. More than 440 Australians are known to be in Christchurch.
10.43pm: The Black Caps have held a crisis meeting to check that all team members have made contact with loved ones.
10.40pm: The first of two Royal Australian Air Force C-130 Hercules aircraft is on its way to Christchurch.
10.29pm: John Key expects the cordon around the Christchurch CBD will be in place for at least five days.
10.22pm: Building inspectors from all three territorial authorities in Southland, along with a public information manager, are likely to be heading to Christchurch tomorrow to help out.
Emergency Management Southland Advisor Craig Sinclair said eight building inspectors are on standby waiting for confirmation before they leave.
A reminder that power will be off in th CBD and the Eastern suburbs overnight.
10.19pm: Bob Parker said that this quake "is absolutely all about the people" as opposed to the September 4 one where the focus turned quickly to buildings and property.
He said the trauma can be measured by the number of people now leaving the city.
10.16pm: Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker said he has been told unofficially that more than 100 people have been pulled alive from rubble so far.
10.14pm: The NZ Defence Force says Army medical teams are at four different locations around Christchurch, with military MPs working with the police and NZDF firefighters working with local fire brigades.
Approximately 200 plus soldiers are assisting police with cordon duties.
10.11pm: David Meates says they are working to make space for an influx of patients over the next few days. He said eight people, two children and six adults, have been transported to intensive care units in other parts of the country.
He said staffing is proving a major concern for hospitals in the region but they are expecting support from other hospitals throughout the country.
10.09pm: The Chief Executive of the Canterbury District Health Board, David Meates, has repeated calls by Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker for people to be conscious of their water and sewerage use and to look after neighbours.
10.06pm: Chris Wright from the NZ Defence Force says the Royal NZ 757 will be arriving at Christchurch Airport at 10.20pm. It will be carrying specialist search teams and sniffer dogs to assist in the rescue effort.
10.04pm: Police officers skilled in disaster victim identification are travelling to Christchurch. About 200 staff from around the country have been mobilised as part of the immediate response.
Out of town police staff are are taking sleeping bags, water and food with them so that they are self sufficient for five days.
10.01pm: Routine elective surgery will be cancelled in Auckland tomorrow as staff prepare to treat people injured in today's devastating quake.
9.59pm: The Executive Director of Nursing at the Canterbury DHB, Mary Gordon, says the Christchurch Hospital is fully functioning with power and water. All seriously injured patients are being transported there.
Other hospitals in Christchurch are functioning but are running off generator power and do not have water.
9.54pm: Around 15 TelstraClear workers in Christchurch are unaccounted for. TelstraClear says it is using all available technological means to make contact with them.
9.50pm: Civil Defence says tomorrow's kerbside collection is cancelled to the Brighton and coastal areas.
9.48pm: Police Commissioner Howard Broad has just spoken to media in Christchurch and has described the quake as "a very traumatic event for Christchurch".
Broad said police will support the people affected and added he has had offers of assistance from police commissioners in Australia.
9.44pm: The central city is now closed around Four Avenues and police have again called for people to stay out of the CBD.
9.42pm: Police say they will soon be able to announce a number specifically for missing people. They will announce it on their website as sson as it is up and running.
9.39pm: Civil Defence says Portaloos will be deployed - however this may take some time.
It also recommends people stay home, do not go to work or school for three days and keep roads uncongested by keeping travel to an absolute minimum.
9.36pm: John Key says he never imagined he would have to preside over a disaster such as today's earthquake in Christchurch.
The Prime Minister says there's an eerie sense of the enormity of the challenge that lies ahead.
9.34pm: "We have to be realistic...this is unprecedented for our city. These are hard times and you've got to try and stay as calm as you can. There's nothing else that you can do right now other than look after yourselves and your neighbours." - Bob Parker.
9.28pm: Bob parker has repeated the police helpline number: 0800 779 997. It is for welfare enquires and missing people.
9.27pm: Twelve Japanese students from a foreign language school have been reported missing in the rubble of a Christchurch building. The Sankei Shimbun newspaper said two Japanese teachers and nine students were rescued, but 12 students from were missing in the Peterborough St building. They are from Toyama city.
9.25pm: "As we talk there are people who are fighting for their lives" - Bob Parker.
9.22pm: Bob Parker is urging people to get together and support each other.
"We are in the middle of a major disaster in global terms.
"We are all frightened, we are all traumatised. None of us know exactly what will happen next."
9.20pm: Auckland Hospital is expecting the first of patients injured in the Christchurch quake to arrive soon. They are a woman and child who are being flown north for treatment.
As well as making beds and it's intensive care unit available, the DHB has put five nurses on standby to fly to Christchurch.
9.16pm: Water remains a key concern. Bob Parker is urging people to conserve water however they can, including draining hot water cylinders and putting out buckets to catch rain water tonight.
He reiterated that people should not flush toilets as all but five pumping stations are destroyed.
9.14pm: Parker said the situation would be made clearer in the morning but warned "it's not going to be good news and we need to steel ourselves to understand that."
9.12pm: Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker is holding a press conference. He is urging people to stay in their houses if possible.
He says emergency centres are "creaking at the seams" and that if people are scared they should stay with neighbours.
"All of our energy tonight is focussed on the need to rescue people."
He estimated more than a hundred people could be trapped, "but there could be more".
"You need to understand our focus is on saving people, not gathering statistics," he said.
9.07pm: All available fares on Air New Zealand domestic services from any point on the domestic network to/from Christchurch for booking and travel through until 8am Friday morning are available for $50 one way.
In addition, Air New Zealand will operate a return Auckland-Christchurch service tomorrow utilising a Boeing 747-400, with seats available at the $50 fare.
They can be booked via the Air New Zealand website and call centre.
9.05pm: From 3am tomorrow, 280 payphones in and around Christchurch will be have free calling for local, national and mobile calls.
9.04pm: Insurer Tower has set up an emergency response team to handle a heavy load of claims calls during the aftermath of today's quake. Tower expected the significant damage being reported to trigger re-insurance arrangements, under which it is liable for costs up to $5 million. The after-tax effect of that is expected to be around $3.5 million, the company said.
9.02pm: 2degrees' Christchurch network has been running on batteries in many areas, and they will run short of power overnight, the company says.
Customers should expect to be without some mobile service this evening and tomorrow.
9.00pm: Bill English repeated John Key's grim assessment of the situation that today is New Zealand's "darkest". He said the death toll, currently at 65, is almost certainly expected to rise.
8.56pm: English has signed an approval for emergency spending under the Public Finance Act which enables government agencies to spend extra money as necessary.
"The government is willing to throw everything it can at the rescue effort, and time is of the essence," he said.
Earthquake Minister Gerry Brownlee has cut short his trip in the Middle East and will return to New Zealand by tomorrow evening.
8.53pm: English said the United Nations, the European Union, Singapore and Israel have been in contact to see if they could help. He said discussions were also underway with Japan, which has expertise in earthquake recovery.
8.51pm: English says he believes around 1200 people are at Addington Raceway. He said people have had to be bussed from Hagley Park to other welfare centres, with many seeking comfort.
"By tomorrow night we hope they can head home then we'll see who really doesn't have a home to go to."
8.50pm: Bill English is giving a press conference. He says there are 350 military personnel in Christchurch, and a further 250 are on standby. Three navy ships are in Lyttelton Harbour with a fourth on its way. A hundred Singaporean army engineers are in Christchurch and are also on standby.
8.49pm: St John Ambulance says it needs at least another 20 personnel on the ground in Christchurch.
Extra helicopters and equipment have been sent but national operations director Michael Brooke says they now need extra staff.
8.46pm: tvnz.co.nz now has aerial footage of Christchurch following the devastating quake. To view it, click here.
8.41pm: An Australian woman awaiting rescue from a collapsed office building in Christchurch has spoken of being trapped in the dark and unable to move. "I was sitting at my desk, and I went under my desk and the ceiling collapsed on top of the desk," Anne Voss said.
8.38pm: NZTA says all state highway bridges have been inspected and, while some have sustained minor damage, all are operational.
8.34pm: More than 400 Australian doctors attending a prostate cancer conference in Christchurch will spend the night in a park after their hotel was damaged by an earthquake, according to AAP. A temporary crisis centre for Australians stranded in the city has been set up.
8.32pm: Wellington Airport says they have received hundreds of offers for accomodation and have now housed everyone in need.
8.30pm: The Canterbury DHB is asking GPs who can open tomorrow to get in touch. Meantime, Southland DHB remains on standby with their incident management team monitoring the situation and able to assist.
8.28pm: Lyttelton Port says it will take at least 24 hours to assess the damage to wharves and other infrastructure.
8.26pm: Australia has bolstered its help for the search and rescue efforts with a 73-strong search and rescue team now on its way from NSW to Christchurch.
8.21pm: Several appeals have been launched in support of victims of the Christchurch earthquake. To see the appeals click here .
8.18pm: All schools and early childhood services in Christchurch City are closed until further notice. Schools in Waimakariri and Selwyn Districts are also closed tomorrow to allow time to assess the situation.
8.16pm: The collapsed CTV building in Christchurch is now on fire. The building was one of the worst affected by today's earthquake. People are reported to still be trapped inside.
8.15pm: It has started raining in the city, meaning an uncomfortable night ahead for many.
For any people not under shelter, it is also a cool evening in Christchurch with the temperature just 13C at the moment and forecast to drop to 12C overnight.
8.12pm: Power will remain off in the Christchurch CBD tonight and cordons have been set up to keep people out. These will be pushed out to the Four Avenues overnight.
8.10pm: Telecom have deployed generators to provide back-up power to cellsites in key emergency response areas affected by ongoing mains power outages.
8.08pm: Telecom says disruption to landline and mobile services in Christchurch is continuing and large parts of the network are currently working off backup power. 111 services remain stable.
8.06pm: Reuters is reporting that 23 Japanese people are trapped at the Achievement Institute of Language on Peterborough Street in Christchurch.
8.04pm: A magnitude 5.0 aftershock has struck 10km south east of Lyttelton at a depth of 12km.
8.02pm: Civil Defence says welfare centres are now established in the following places:
Burnside School, Papanui High School, Lyttelton Recreation Centre, Brooklands Community Centre, Akaroa Senior School.
7.59pm: Civil Defence says Addington Raceway is now shut.
7.58pm: The Queens of the Stone Age show at the Christchurch Town Hall on Thursday 24 February has been cancelled.
7.51pm: Since the 6.3 magnitude quake hit, there have been dozens of aftershocks. The latest at 6.59pm was 4.6 magnitude at a depth of 5km. It struck 10km south-east of Lyttelton. To see a full list of the quakes click here.
7.44pm: New Zealand sporting identities have been sending messages of support to the victims of the Christchurch earthquake.
7.41pm: Christchurch Hospital is bracing for a sudden increase in new babies as women go into premature labour as a result of today's massive earthquake.
The number of babies born spiked following the 7.1 magnitude quake last September 4 and a repeat is looking likely today.
7.37pm: Police say the Christchurch CBD has been cordoned off and are warning people to stay away from the areas within Madras, St Asaph, Montreal and Kilmore Streets.
People who try to get into the cordoned off areas will be turned away.
7.34pm: The quake caused 30 million tonnes of ice to collapse from the Tasman Glacier's face into its Terminal Lake. As a result, passengers aboard two Glacier Explorer boats were rocked by numerous waves of up to 3.5 metres. The calving is the third biggest event in the history of the Terminal Lake.
A 6.3 magnitude earthquake centred 10km south of Christchurch struck at 12.51pm today. Prime Minister John Key has now confirmed 65 people have died, with the toll expected to rise.
There has been widespread devastation, largely centralised to the Christchurch CBD and several buildings have been toppled.
People are still believed to be trapped inside buildings and emergency response teams from New Zealand and abroad have been deployed to help with the rescue effort.
Around 75% of the affected area is still without power.
There are also reports of flooding and liquefaction, and residents are urged to boil any water before using it.
People seeking help are urged not to go to Hagley Park, but to Burnside High School or Addington Raceway instead.
7.18pm: Fire appliances, firefighting crews and Urban Search and Rescue personnel are on their way to Christchurch to support the civil defence emergency response.
The first wave of support includes several fire appliances from Dunedin and Invercargill with 20 firefighters and support staff.
A USAR (Urban Search and Rescue) team from New South Wales is also mobilising while Queensland and the United States have teams on standby.
7.15pm: Orion Chief Executive Roger Sutton is hoping power will be restored to most places within the next two days. But he warns it could take one-two weeks for power to be reconnected to the worst hit areas.
7.12pm: Emergency vehicles are now able to use Lyttleton tunnel. It is still closed to all other traffic until an assessment tomorrow.
7.08pm: Christchurch International Airport remains closed for commercial flights but is open for emergency personnel flying in and the military.
The runways, underground fuel system and airways control tower are undamaged, but there is a lot of superficial damage in the terminal buildings.
A decision on international flights will be made around lunchtime tomorrow.
7.03pm: Power company Orion says a large amount of power in Banks Peninsula is now back on but Lyttelton and parts of Christchurch City are still being assessed. The company is warning people not to assume that power will stay on given the numerous aftershocks that are expected.
6.59pm: Search and rescue teams are to work throughout the night looking for survivors following today's massive Christchurch earthquake, Civil Defence director John Hamilton says.
6.57pm: Statistics New Zealand has stopped the delivery of census forms in Christchurch and Banks Peninsula because of the devastating nature of today's earthquake
6.55pm: New Zealand's Governor-General, Rt Hon Sir Anand Satyanand has sent a message saying his thoughts are with the people of Christchurch.
"Having just left Christchurch this morning it has been with great shock to learn of the latest earthquake to hit Canterbury this afternoon. I have been informed of damage, serious injuries and, most distressingly, significant loss of life.
"This latest event, coming after last September's devastating quake, will be traumatic to the people of the city and region who have endured six months of aftershocks while trying to put their lives together."
6.50pm: The trust set up to support victims of the Pike River mine tragedy will no longer accept donations in the wake of the Christchurch earthquake.
Pike River Disaster Relief Trust chairman and Greymouth mayor Tony Kokshoorn said he was "amazed that people just kept on giving", but urged people to consider donating to the quake's victims instead.
6.47pm: People are being asked to keep emergency departments for serious casualties only. Christchurch Hospital, along with most other hospitals in the region, has suffered infrastructure damage.
6.45pm: Civil Defence authorities are asking people affected by todays Christchurch earthquake to check they have plans in place for the evening before it gets dark.
6.43pm: Bob Parker said people are in the collapsed Christchurch Cathedral. He said the city needs more people with urban search and rescue skills, but in terms of medical facilities they are in good nick.
"What the picture will be in the morning, God only knows," he said.
"Our focus is on rescue at the moment. Our focus is on getting people out of the rubble."
6.42pm: Christchurch's state of emergency has been declared for at least five days.
6.39pm: John Key said there are 180 police on the ground and a further 200 on the way. 350 military were already in Christchurch and another 250 will arrive soon.
6.36pm: Bob Parker has spokn to Mike Hosking and says this is "a day that hits everyone of us on a very personal level".
He has repeated that he expects the number of fatalities to rise.
6.32pm: Bob Parker says the facility at Hagley Park is no longer available for people to go to. Two additional facilities have been set up at Burnside High School and the Addington Raceway, which was used during the aftermath of the September 4 quake.
6.27pm: It is a very real possibility that people may be spending the night trapped in buildings. At least 200 people are believed to still be trapped.
6.23pm: John Key says "we may be witnessing New Zealand's darkest day".
"This is a community that is absolutely in agony. We just need this community, as it's done before, and as it will do again, to come together, to check and support one another."
6.18pm: Prime Minister John Key is on ONE News. He says 65 people are confirmed dead. He warns the death toll may rise.
He describes Christchurch as "a scene of utter devastation".
"We had everything on our side in the last earthquake... we're the polar opposite this time," he said.
6.17pm: All guests and staff at the three Millennium and Copthorne hotels in central Christchurch are believed to have been safely evacuated.
6.15pm: There have been 13 aftershocks in Christchurch since today's 6.3 magnitude quake just before 1pm.
Geonet report the shakes range from 5.7 to 3.4 magnitude.
The last was magnitude 4 and shook Christchurch just before 6pm.
6.06pm: 17 people are now confirmed dead by Civil Defence Director John Hamilton.
The number is expected to rise with the number of casualties they are getting in.
6.06pm: Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker has told Newstalk ZB that at least 200 people are trapped and that he expects the death toll to be in the dozens.
6.04pm: Triage centres have been set up for the injured at Latimer Square in the central city, Spotlight Mall in Sydenham and Sanitarium in Papanui.
6.03pm: Air New Zealand flights into and out of Christchurch up until 7pm this evening are cancelled pending the completion of infrastructure and runways checks by Christchurch Airport.
6.00pm: A large number of police staff are being readied to deploy from around New Zealand to Christchurch following today's earthquake in the city.
Cordon points have been established around the central city and police are urging people as a priority to stay at home with their families and to check on their neighbours.
The Christchurch Central Police Station, which was earlier evacuated, has now been re-opened.
The police emergency 111 system is working.
5.58pm: Contractors have reported significant damage to the control building at the Lyttelton Tunnel, and the tunnel has been closed so that a thorough inspection can be made to assess the scope of any damage to the tunnel structure.
5.53pm: Rescue workers outside the CTV building say they they are preparing to pull a fifth person from the building alive. It is believed to be a man. There are serious reports that people inside have not made it through and reporter Joy Reid says "it's a very grim situation down here".
5.52pm: Bob Parker said no tsunami is expected as the earthquake struck inland.
5.49pm: "We've got people who are fighting for their lives, trapped in fallen buildings." - Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker.
5.45pm: Transpower has restored its electricity network to Christchurch. Chief Executive Patrick Strange says although it's got power back up and running some areas will still be without power until Orion is able to restore its distribution service.
5.42pm: ONE News reporter Matt McLean is in Hagley Park where a temporary shelter has been set up. He says there are around 500 people already at the shelter and many are from hotels in town.
He has spoken to people at the park who say they saw people die. One man said he saw rubble crush a man in Cathedral Square.
Another man said he pulled a man from a car that was crushed and that he was dead.
5.39pm: Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd has addressed Australia's National Press Club and described the situation as "just horrible".
"The damage is large, it's in the middle of a working day, and the earthquake has not been deep from the surface."
"Our solidarity to our Kiwi friends at a horrible time for the people of Christchurch, a horrible time for the people of New Zealand."
"For the people of Christchurch, this just isn't fair."
5.38pm: ONE News will stay on-air with uninterrupted coverage of the Christchurch quake until at least 11pm this evening.
AMP Business will not broadcast tomorrow. Instead Breakfast will begin at 6am and stay on-air through until at least midday.
5.36pm: Labour leader Phil Goff was at Christchurch Airport when the quake hit. "I knew it was a big one, the whole building was shaking, everything was being smashed around us," he said.
5.34pm: Orion Chief Executive Roger Sutton says the company aims to restore 50% of the power that has been knocked out in and around Christchurch by tonight.
He says no effort will be made to reconnect power in the CBD until the situation can be assessed further.
He says it is an immensely difficult task as it is so hard for teams to get on the ground and inspect places.
5.30pm: John Key has just arrived at Civil Defence headquarters in Christchurch.
5.27pm: BP has closed all its Christchurch service stations. Some have lost power or have damaged forecourts and the tanks and pipes on all need to be inspected.
BP Managing Director Mike McGuinness says, when the sites re-open, available fuel will be quarantined for emergency services to ensure essential services can be provided to the city.
5.23pm: Telecom has enabled all public phone boxes in Christchurch to make free calls.
5.17pm: It has been reported that there has been a huge caving of ice off the side of Mount Aoraki.
5.16pm: NZPA is reporting that at least one person is dead and 30 more trapped in the Pyne Gould Corp (PGC) business building in central Christchurch. The four-storey building collapsed in the 6.3 magnitude earthquake.
5.14pm: Seismologist Bill Fry says people can expect a "good handful" of more aftershocks measuring magnitude 4 or larger. He said the original 6.3 magnitude quake is technically part of the aftershock sequence from the September 4 earthquake, but would also have aftershocks of its own.
5.10pm: The NZ Blood Service says no additional blood donors are needed at this stage. They say sufficient stocks of blood are available at this time.
5.06pm: Kiri Couch, a resident in Rapaki near Lyttelton says massive boulders have been coming down off the nearby moutain "the size of two-bedroom houses".
5.03pm: South Island hospitals say they are preparing for hundreds of casualties.
5.01pm: The Auckland University Students Association has launched an immediate street appeal to raise money for the people of Christchurch affected by the disastrous earthquake.
4.59pm: ONE News reporter Joy Reid is on the ground in Christchurch and says there is speculation a mortuary is being set up.
4.57pm: The fire service is continuing to use helicopters and monsoon buckets to put out fires in the CBD.
4.55pm: Bill English says the government is preparing itself for a sitution that is larger and more devastating than Spetember's earthquake.
He said in terms of the quake's cost "we are covered for this as a seperate earthquake" and that any insurance claims should be treated as new claims.
4.53pm: The New Zealand Dollar has plunged nearly one US cent following the earthquake. Investors are anticipating further delays to the country's economic recovery.
4.52pm: John Carter says "there have been a number of significant hotels that have collapsed with, we understand, a number of people in them."
4.50pm: Geonet is reporting nine aftershocks since the original 6.3 earthquake. The latest, at 4.04pm, was 5.0 magnitude at a depth of 12kms.
4.48pm: Civil Defence Director John Hamilton says there have been fatalities, but does not want to speculate as to how many. "As far as we have been told, yes there have been fatalaties," he said.
4.47pm: Carter has confirmed that schools have all been closed and teachers are staying with pupils till they are collected by parents.
4.46pm: This from ONE News reporter Joy Reid: "Three people have been stretchered out alive from the CTV building, which is flattened and on fire."
4.44pm: The government helpline is 0800 779 997 .
4.43pm: Search and rescue teams from New Plymouth and Auckland are expected to land in Christchurch within the next four hours.
4.40pm: Emergency services are still putting together "a picture of the devastation" says Bill English.
4.38pm: John Carter says the status of people feared trapped in buildings is unknown, and that search and rescue teams, the army and police are attempting to find out what their situation is. He says determining the safety of people in the city is their main priority.
4.36pm: Multiple offers of help have been made to New Zealand by foreign countries.
4.34pm: Civil Defence Minister John Carter is urging people to first and foremost look after themselves, their friends and their neighbours.
He said they need to get themselves to safety and out of the central city.
Carter added they need to get themselves out of the city in the immediate term as more aftershocks are expected to be felt for many weeks to follow.
4.31pm: Bill English says he is aware of reports of multiple fatalities but cannot confirm them. He says police will provide information as it comes to hand.
4.29pm: Bill English says government agencies are still putting together a picture of events and information is still coming through.
The Primie Minister is en route to Christchurch and should arrive in about an hour.
Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker has declared a State of Emergency.
Police are working with the Defence Force who coincidentally had extra forces there. They are working to evacuate central Christchurch and establish a cordon.
4.26pm: A press conference has started at the Beehive. Bill English is speaking ad has expressed his condolences to the people of Christchurch.
4.24pm: Retailers across the country are being warned they may experience delays processing Eftpos transactions after the quake.
4.22pm: A state of emergency has been declared in Christchurch. Civil Defence Minister John Carter says that means the government can do whatever it needs to do help people.
4.20pm: Search and rescue teams from the bay of Plenty/Waikato region have been dispatched to Christchurch.
4.17pm: A press conference is due to begin shortly to update the situation in Christchurch.
4.15pm: Meridian Energy's Christchurch-based call centre has been closed today.
4.10pm: The Forsyth Barr building on the corner of Armargh and Colombo streets is believed to have 150 people trapped inside it. It is a 13 story building and the fire service has managed to get about 30 people out according to Fire Station Officer Peter McCardle.
4.09pm: The Christchurch Police District Commander, Superintendent Dave Cliff, who was in Wellington at the time, has now returned to the city to take personal command of the rescue effort.
4.07pm: Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has addressed parliament and said Australia would send "whatever is needed" to help in Christchurch. She said a search and rescue team is already en route.
4.04pm: If you are looking for someone in Christchurch or have information about someone that others may need, you can share information on this person finder application .
3.59pm: Civil Defence Minister John Carter has briefed the media and says there are a lot of unconfirmed reports coming out of Christchurch. He has not confirmed any fatalities but services are preparing for the worst.
3.57pm: Telecom has confirmed their 111 emergency line is now stable.
3.56pm: The New Zealand Fire Service is mobilising its two North Island Urban Search and Rescue taskforces to support the third taskforce which is based in Christchurch. Plans are underway to send fire appliances and personnel from other parts of the South Island to Christchurch to assist with the emergency response.
3.55pm: All trains stopped at 12.58pm between Ashburton and Picton, and on the West Coast.
TranzAlpine has been stopped at Greymouth and the return service has been cancelled.. There are 231 passengers on board and the company is sourcing alternative accommodation for them as the state of the road and track is unknown.
3.53pm: Several South Island hospitals, including Dunedin and Timaru, are clearing patients to make room for those who have been affected by today's quake, Civil Defence Minister John Carter says.
3.49pm: Christchurch residents are being told to boil any water before they use it.
3.46pm: Delegates at the United States New Zealand Partnership Forum meeting in Christchurch are understood to be safe, but that could not be officially confirmed.
A US delegation of 43 government, business and community leaders was attending the forum, which began yesterday and was due to end this evening.
The whereabouts of US Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell could not be confirmed.
3.43pm: The motorway is reported to be clogged going out of Christchurch, which currently seems to be the worst hit area. Most of the damage appears to be centralised to the city.
The Waimakariri district is experiencing some liquefaction according to the district mayor. Reports from Kaiapoi are that the area is not as damaged as last time.
3.38pm: Contact Energy says is has had reports of gas leaks and is preparing to shut off the gas supply as a precaution. It also warns consumers to turn off all gas appliances and their gas mains if they can locate them.
3.36pm: Police have confirmed that Christchurch Hospital is not evacuated and is in operation.
No injuries have been reported at Christchurch Airport.
3.33pm: Civil Defence has declared its highest level of emergency in the region - level 3.
3.30pm: ONE News reporter Joy Reid says people are in shock and the smell of dust in the city is much stronger than last time. She says the time the quake struck means Christchurch has been thrown into a state of absolute panic.
3.27pm: All Countdown supermarkets in the Christchurch area are closed.
3.25pm: Geonet has recorded a 5.5 magnitude shock within 5km of Lyttelton at 2.50pm. It was 5 kms deep.
3.23pm: Christchurch airport's runway has been declared open for emergency flights. They have been asked to prepare for medical evacuations and assistance flights.
3.21pm: The NZTA has closed the Lyttelton Tunnel. The agency reports that the Rakaia Bridge on SH 1 south of Christchurch and the Waimakariri Bridge on SH1 north of Christchurch are both open.
3.18pm: Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown says Wellington City Council staff and volunteers will again travel south to help out in Christchurch and around Canterbury if needed following this afternoon's quake.
3.10pm: All flights from Auckland Airport have been cancelled or delayed. No-one is being allowed to check in.
2.59pm: Civil Defence HQ in Wellington is on level 3 - its highest level for a domestic incident. They are struggling to reach staff in Christchurch.
2.58pm: NZTA confirms that all its staff, including those at the Lyttelton Tunnel, are safe.
2.54pm: All AM radio frequencies are out in Christchurch. Newstalk ZB is broadcasting on 91.3FM, 97.7FM and 106.5FM Christchurch.
2.53pm: New pictures show a great deal of liquefaction in the central city.
2.52pm: GNS says the quake may have struck on a different faultline to September's. More aftershocks are coming through every few minutes.
2.51pm: People in the area are asked to text not call to reduce pressure on phonelines.
2.46pm: It is confirmed a significant aftershock struck an hour ago at 1.46pm. It had a magnitude of 4.4 and a depth of 5km, centred 10 km east of Lyttelton.
2.42pm: Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd sends his solidarity to "our Kiwi friends". He has spoken with Foreign Minister Murray McCully and says there are fears in New Zealand about deaths and injuries. "For the people of Christchurch it just isn't fair," he said.
2.38pm: Christchurch Hospital has not been completely evacuated, contrary to previous reports.
2.34pm: TVNZ has had unconfirmed reports of houses being flattened in Lyttelton, near Rapaki and Tamatea. One caller heard from scared family, saying there are boulders and other debris that have come down and taken out cars and houses.
2.31pm: GNS says today's quake was stronger, but shorter than September's. It was a different type of shaking, so will have affected different buildings.
2.21pm: Mayor Bob Parker, talking to ONE News live, says another after shock has just struck.
"It was a war zone," he said of the central city.
"It's serious but we are on the job. Please understand, there will be bad news coming out of today."
2.18pm: Mike Hall, National Fire Commander, says an assessment will be made at 3pm as to whether international help is called for. He says there are unconfirmed reports of people trapped.
2.13pm: Defence forces have been called in to assist, police said.
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.
2.08pm: Police say "multiple fatalities" have been reported at several locations in the central city. This includes two buses crushed by falling buildings. A doctor and emergency services are attending.
2.04pm: Key advises people to leave the central city. Evacuees will be looked after, he says.
2.02pm: John Key tells Parliament details are sketchy but the people of Canterbury are going through a "truamatic and frightening" experience.
An emergency cabinet meeting will be held at 3pm. Key will then fly to Christchurch if conditions allow.
2.00pm: Transit New Zealand has been unable to contact its staff in Christchurch and at the Lyttelton Tunnel, which is close to the epicentre.
1.58pm There is huge amounts of silt and
liquefaction is bubbling up around people's legs. People are
getting out of their cars and abandoning them.
1:57pm A Telecom spokesman says the company's technical engineers are working "frantically" to ascertain the extent of interruption to phone lines in Christchurch. He said "substantial interruption" was expected.
1.53pm Prime Minister John Key is due to make a statement on his way into Parliament this afternoon.
1.52pm Christchurch Airport is closed. Its terminals have been evacuated.
1.50pm The centre of this quake is shallower than the last one.
1.49pm The damage is "far worse" than the September 4 7.1 magnitude quake. Civil Defence Minister John Carter says the situation is very serious. There has been an unconfirmed report of a death.
1:45pm First televison pictures show devastation in the CBD. Buildings are collapsed. Roads torn up.
1:43pm McRae says he believe there must have been people killed and major injuries. TVNZ building has been severely damaged.
1:40pm Tom McRae ONE News describes the situation as catastrophic. He has seen people with blood pouring from their faces. They are fleeing town.
1.37pm TVNZ is live on air but its newsroom in Christchurch is badly damaged.
1.34pm A woman in Richmond said the quake was
worse than the 7.1 magnitude quake on September 4. There is
flooding on the streets, residents have reported. Geonet have said
though that it is 6.3.
1.27pm Christchurch mayor Bob Parker said he was thrown across the room by the quake which was "very, very strong". "It felt more like a whole new earthquake to me," he told Radio New Zealand.
1.21pm Christchurch mayor Bob Parker says pipes are burst throughout the CBD. He knows of injuries and unconfirmed reports of serious injuries.
1:18pm The quake has been felt across the North Island as well as the south. The quake has also been felt in Dunedin, Greymouth and Timaru. Civil Defence have not activated the Civil Defence bunker
1.11pm: Geonet confirms it is a 6.3 magnitude, at a depth of 5 km and centred 10 km south-east of Christchurch
1.10pm: According to Christchurch police, the Cathedral has taken a big hit. There are no further details yet.
1.08pm: 'Swiggs' has posted to Twitter saying "biggest quake yet ever. Christchurch will be shut down now."
Twitter user 'michael murty' says "major earthquake in Christchurch. Huge damage to my work."
There are reports the quake has been felt in Dunedin, Greymouth and Timaru.
1.09pm: Orion Energy says it does not yet know the extent of power outage but there is a lot of power out.
1.08pm: The quake is believed to be of 6.3 magnitude.
12.58pm: Tweeters describe the quake as "huge" and say there is damage.
12.56pm: TVNZ understands Christchruch police station has been evacuated.
12.51pm: A major earthquake hits Christchurch.