Quake Hits Christchurch, NZ – Kills 65

[Ed. Note: As of March 1, at the 2:51 PM ringing of the bells to mark the one-week point since the Christchurch Quake, confirmed dead is 154 people, with police expecting the final toll to reach “around 240,” according to the New Zealand Herald.]

The New Zealand Herald is reporting that in the country’s second largest city, Christchurch, residents say bodies lying in the streets following this afternoon’s magnitude 6.3 earthquake.

Police said fatalities had been reported at several locations and that two buses had been crushed by falling buildings.

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”The death toll I have at the moment is 65 and that may rise. So it’s an absolute tragedy for this city, for New Zealand, for the people that we care so much about,” said New Zealand Prime Minister John Key. ”It’s a terrifying time for the people of Canterbury.”

He said: “We may be witnessing New Zealand’s darkest day.”

It is believed that at least 200 people are trapped under rubble, Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker said.

Mayor Parker has declared a state of emergency and described the city of almost 400,000 people as a war zone.

Local TV showed bodies being pulled out of rubble strewn around the city center, though it was unclear whether any of them were alive. But police reported multiple fatalities after the 6.3 magnitude quake struck during the busy lunchtime.

Emergency crews picked through the rubble, including a multi-story office building whose floors appeared to have pancaked on top of each other.

Christchurch resident Jaydn Katene told the Herald: “We’ve had friends in town call us and say there are just bodies lying around. Lots of dead bodies outside shops just lying there just covered in bricks.

“When it hit we were knocked to our feet. Everything in the house fell down, nothing was left still standing…the roads are completely torn up. Sewage coming up and flooding. It’s crazy.”

“The elderly are all crying. The next-door neighbors around us were all bawling their eyes out, it was horrible” said Mr. Katene.

Compiled via New Zealand Herald and Reuters and other sources.

Unedited video via TV NewZealand (sound comes on at about the 3:02 mark)
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