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At least 65 killed in Christchurch earthquake

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New Zealand Prime Minister John Key said on Tuesday that at least 65 people were killed in the earthquake that measured 6.3 on the Richter scale, in South Island’s city of Christchurch earlier in the day.

Key arrived in Christchurch on Tuesday afternoon after an emergency cabinet meeting in Wellington. He said it was “the darkest day” in New Zealand’s history.

New Zealand
New Zealand

The quake was centred 10km south-east of the South Island city and struck at 12:51.

Police have confirmed fatalities at several locations in the city, including in two buses that were crushed by falling buildings.

Police said other reports include multiple building collapses, fires in buildings in the central city and persons reported trapped in buildings.

Several aftershocks struck the city during the afternoon, with the largest aftershock measured at 5.7 on the Richter scale, at 1:04pm.

New Zealand National Civil Defence Controller, David Coetzee, said the damage is worse than the 7.1-magnitude quake on 4 September last year.

People have thronged onto the streets of the city center. There are fresh piles of rubble everywhere.

Residents in Christchurch were being asked to stay off the roads to allow emergency services to get through.

Meanwhile, Australia has sent a search and rescue team to Christchurch to help New Zealand authorities deal with the aftermath of the earthquake.

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard said Australia would provide any assistance requested by New Zealand.

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