Dozens of people are killed as a major earthquake hits New Zealand’s second biggest city of Christchurch. For updates and video from #c4news follow the live blog – and add your voice.
17.50 For those searching for people or with information about individuals in Christchurch: Google Person Finder: Christchurch Earthquake, February 2011
17.00 The New Zealand government has promised significant financial assistance for those affected by the Christchurch quake. NZ PM John Key said: “We will be moving into looking at packages for businesses, employees and those who will be struggling to make ends meet. But very quickly people are going to have to address the issue that they have outgoings. They don’t have jobs to go to, businesses can’t reopen and that is not something that is going to be resolved quickly.”
16.25 It is being reported that an estimated 30,000 tonnes displaced from New Zealand’s biggest glacier caused by the Christchurch quake.
16.00 Peter Jackson’s crew for ‘The Hobbit have pledged to offer assistance in the rescue operation, according to The Hollywood Reporter
15.00 Regular shocks measuring between 3.0 and 4.0 on the Richter Scale continue through the night in Christchurch every 15 minutes to half an hour.
14.15 Pictures coming out of Christchurch via Twitter reveal how the epicentre struck right at the heart of the city.
14.00 Rugby World Cup 2011 boss Martin Sneddon says all matches will take place in New Zealand despite the earthquake in Christchurch. He told press: “Any assessment [of Christchurch venue] by us must wait while the efforts take priority.”
12:50 The British Red Cross are now accepting donations for the victims in Christchurch, follow this link for more information.
12:35 Further minor after shocks reported around Christchurch varying from magnitude 2.9 to 3.7.
11.30 Families of unaccounted victims believed to be in the destroyed TV station building in Christchurch have been told there is no hope of any survivors in the building.
10.30 Aftershock quake manitude 4.1, Thusday 00.12 NZDT (11.12 GMT)
10.00 Official death toll up to 75 with hundreds of nationals and internationals still missing. 80% of Christchurch is still without water
09.36 A construction manager tells how the rescue team he joined had to use a hacksaw to remove a victims leg set him free from under concrete block. Fred Haering said: “It’s a necessity of the game”.
09.26 TWO IRISH PEOPLE CONFIRMED DEAD IN CHRISTCHURCH QUAKE: The Department of Foreign Affairs told AFP that they have “serious concerns” about a further two and concerns about another 10 Irish people in the city.
07.32 Rescue teams at work in Christchurch from Taiwan (24), Singapore (71). USA (80 arriving Thursday) and the UK (63 arriving Thursday)
Overnight update: NZ Blood services confirm they have sufficient blood stocks; Christchurch airport re-opens and will recover backlog by ‘end-of-day’; At least 34 aftershocks recorded.
18:42 Air New Zealand are offering special fares, for immediate family, in and out of Christchurch. International flights: $400NZ (+ tax) one way, internal flights: $50NZ (+ tax)
17:25 According to local media reports New Zealand authorities have altered the number of people killed in the earthquake as information is gathered. At least 32 people have been confirmed dead, the director of civil defence John Hamilton is reported to have said, although many more are still missing and the death toll is still expected to rise.
17:10 A specialist rescue team from West Midlands Fire Service is also heading to New Zealand. Seven members of the West Midlands specialist international search and rescue team will be led by command support officer Paul Burnham, with the support of operations commander Sean Moore.
16:45 An eyewitness has documented the aftermath of the earthquake showing flattened buildings, piles of rubble strewn over streets and cracked roads. In a video posted online a witness tells of the “terrifying” moment the earthquake shook Christchurch.
16:20 Britain’s search and rescue team is expected to arrive in Christchurch on Thursday evening, Foreign Secretary William Hague has said. The heavy search and rescue team will consist of around 62 people and over nine tonnes of equipment.
“We are sending a search and rescue team to New Zealand, leaving before dawn on Wednesday and due to arrive in Christchurch late on Thursday evening New Zealand time,” Mr Hague said.
“It is a long way from the UK to New Zealand and so our team will take a while to get there, but the New Zealand Government confirm that assistance is very much required.”
15:55 Amateur footage has emerged online reportedly showing the moment the quake struck. In a video uploaded on YouTube filmed inside a house, belongings fall from shelves and the sound of breaking glass can be heard as the building shakes.
15:15 Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker says more than 100 people are feared buried beneath collapsed buildings in the city. A state of emergency has been declared and the city centre evacuated.
14:45 Alice Walker from British Geological Survey in Edinburgh says serious aftershocks could affect the rescue effort.
“We’ve recorded many aftershocks and about six of them have been above magnitude five,” she said.
“The biggest problem about aftershocks is that when you’ve got debris loose on buildings these aftershocks can cause enough shaking to bring that debris down.”
Watch the video below.
14:10 Rescue teams worked under search lights in the early hours of Wednesday morning (local time) in a bid to find scores of people trapped under collapsed buildings. An estimated 120 survivors have already been rescued, but the death toll – currently 65 – is expected to rise.
A number of rescuers are focused on a financial-services office block and a TV building which also housed an English-language school.
About a dozen Japanese students at the school were believed to be missing, an official said, while others from the buildings are also unaccounted for.
13:45 Journalist Matty McLean, who is on the ground in Christchurch with New Zealand’s TVNZ, tweeted that a Japanese man had been pulled alive from the rubble. Rescuers had to amputate his leg to get him free, McLean said.
13:10 Scotland’s Grampian Fire and Rescue Service said it was sending an International Search and Rescue team to New Zealand to provide assistance following the earthquake.
A spokesman told Channel 4 News the team were called after the Department for International Development (DFID) received an official request for assistance from the New Zealand government.
13:00 Before and after: The steeple of Christchurch Cathedral was destroyed in the quake. (Photos: Getty and @Senaz via Twitter)
12:40 In Britain, David Cameron says a search team has been sent to help the rescue effort in Christchurch. The Prime Minister expressed his “deepest sympathies and condolences” to New Zealand in the wake of the earthquake.
“I have been in touch with my good friend, Prime Minister John Key, and he knows that Britain stands ready to provide whatever assistance is required in support of the local emergency services,” he said.
12:38 VIDEO: Aerial views of the destruction as emergency teams search for survivors.
12:20 The British Foreign Office has issued phone numbers for those worried about relatives in New Zealand. British nationals in New Zealand should call 04 9242898 while those in the UK should call 020 7008 8765.
12:15 The Red Cross tells Channel 4 News the risk of aftershocks is affecting the rescue effort, while issues with the telecommunications systems mean many mobile networks have been unable to cope.
12:08 Kineta Knight, 31, tells Channel 4 News Christchurch is a “mess” and that some of her friends are still unaccounted for.
“I’ve heard from my immediate family but still I don’t know where some colleagues are. The CTV building collapsed and they’re still trying to get people out.
“It was bigger in magnitude in September but this time felt nearly double the force – maybe because we were all awake. The destruction this time it seems to be much worse.”
12:00 The Queen says she is “utterly shocked” by the devastation caused by earthquake.
“Please convey my deep sympathy to the families and friends of those who have been killed; my thoughts are with all those who have been affected by this dreadful event, she said in a statement.
“My thoughts are also with the emergency services and everyone who is assisting in the rescue efforts.”
11:45 VIDEO: Latest pictures as witnesses describe running for their lives as buildings fall down.
10:45 NZ Prime Minister John Key posts photos on Facebook from his visit to the epicentre of the disaster as rescuers continue to search for survivors.
10:00 At least 65 people are killed and many more trapped. An online map (pictured below) documents the 6.3 magnitude quake and a number of aftershocks which hit the city.
9:00 “We may well be witnessing New Zealand’s darkest day,” says New Zealand Prime Minister John Key.
8:30 New Zealand has over 14,000 earthquakes a year, of which only around 20 have a magnitude in excess of 5.0.
Tuesday’s was the country’s worst natural disaster since a 1931 quake in the North Island city of Napier killed 256 people.
8:00 New Zealand’s most deadliest natural disaster in 80 years struck at 1251 (2351 GMT Monday), just over six miles south-east of Christchurch.