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Obama sends wishes as quake makes world headlines

Published: 9:35PM Tuesday February 22, 2011 Source: ONE News

American president Barack Obama has sent his sympathies to New Zealand and the victims of the Christchurch earthquake today.

The statement acknowledges a close partnership with New Zealand and offers help in the quake's recovery mission.

"On behalf of the American people, Michelle and I extend our deepest condolences to the people of New Zealand and to the families and friends of the victims in Christchurch, which has suffered its second major earthquake in just six months," Obama said.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with all those whose lives have been touched by this tragedy, especially as they search for their loved ones and work to recover from this disaster. The United States is a close friend and partner of New Zealand, as evidenced by the meeting of the US-New Zealand Partnership Forum that was underway in Christchurch when the earthquake struck.

"To assist in the rescue and recovery efforts, we have agreed to deploy a U.S. Agency for International Development Disaster Assistance Response Team, including an Urban Search and Rescue Team, and we stand ready to provide more assistance as needed.

As our New Zealand friends move forward, may they find some comfort and strength in knowing that they will have the enduring friendship and support of many partners around the world, including the United States."

Headlines around the world

The earthquake that has torn Christchurch apart and left scores dead has made headlines around the world.

The world's media focused on the death toll and destruction caused by the 6.3 magnitude quake.

Many also pointed out that the quake was classed by experts as an aftershock to last September's 7.1 quake which caused widespread damage but no deaths.

News websites carried the story on their front pages, many with video or photogalleries as well as text stories quoting Prime Minister John Key, survivors and emergency officials.

In Australia, the website had live updates as its lead story, plus video.

In one update, quoted Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard saying the relatives of the 8000 Australians known to be in the Canterbury area should prepare for the worst.

The Sydney Morning Herald led with a story headlined: "We may be witnessing New Zealand's darkest day": PM says 65 killed in quake.

The story quoted Key telling TVNZ that the death toll he had at the time was 65 and that may rise.

The SMH said: "As thousands of shocked people wandered the rubble-strewn streets of Christchurch after today's devastating and deadly earthquake, emergency workers were searching for survivors."

Further afield, The New York Times had a prominent story under the headline "Scores Killed in New Zealand Earthquake", accompanied by a picture of rescue workers searching for survivors through debris.

The story was datelined SYDNEY, Australia, and quoted officials and witnesses saying a powerful earthquake struck Christchurch, New Zealand during the city's busy lunchtime rush on Tuesday, flattening office buildings, destroying several homes and killing scores of people.

A reporter in Hong Kong contributed to the New York Times story.

The BBC News website's lead story was headed 'New Zealand earthquake: 65 dead in Christchurch' and was accompanied by a video featuring interviews with survivors.

The story said: New Zealand's prime minister says at least 65 people have died after a 6.3-magnitude earthquake hit Christchurch.

Key said the toll was expected to rise further, adding: "We may be witnessing New Zealand's darkest day."

It said TV pictures of the aftermath of Tuesday's earthquake showed scores of collapsed buildings in Christchurch, on South Island.

People could be seen wandering the rubble-filled streets in distress, the BBC said.

CNN reported: A powerful earthquake ripped through Christchurch, New Zealand, on Tuesday afternoon, killing at least 65 people as it toppled buildings onto buses, buckled streets and damaged cathedrals, authorities said.

Frantic rescuers scrambled to reach those trapped in the rubble hours after the 6.3-magnitude earthquake struck, CNN said. Scores of shaken residents stood on the streets as a woman trapped on a pile of rubble tearfully pleaded the crowd to help her, it said.

"They are coming for you," CNN quote a bystander as saying to the woman.

CNN's coverage of the quake was a little less prominent than a story and video about Libya's leader Muammar Gaddafi making a brief address on Libyan television.

Click here for details on how to donate to the victims of the latest Christchurch earthquake.

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