At least 65 people have died after a 6.3-magnitude earthquake hit Christchurch, New Zealand. The local authorities fears that the death toll could reach as high as 300. More than 120 people have so far been rescued from the ruins but there are still people trapped under buildings. Some trapped are reaching out for help using their mobile phones.
Currently there are no listings of names for dead or missing tourists as they first will have formal contact with victims families.
The New Zealand Government helpline for earthquake assistance is 0800 779997. Google has launched a people finder page and on twitter people can find loved ones or let them know they’re alright on #eqnzcontact. Also on Facebook there is a supportpage for both families, friends and victims. More information from Civil Defence is found here. People in New Zealand concerned about the wellbeing of friends and relatives in Christchurch should call 0800 REDCROSS (0800 733 276). People enquiring from outside New Zealand should call +64 7 850 2199.
The tremor caused widespread damage as it occurred at a shallow depth of 5km (3.1 miles) during lunchtime when Christchurch was at its busiest. The damage is said to be far worse than after the 7.1-magnitude quake on 4 September, which left two people seriously injured but no fatalities.
New Zealand lies at the southern end of the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire, and above an area of the Earth’s crust where the Pacific Plate converges with the Indo-Australian Plate. The country experiences more than 14,000 earthquakes a year, of which only around 20 have a magnitude in excess of 5.0. The last fatal earthquake was in 1968, when a 7.1-magnitude tremor killed three people on the South Island’s western coast.