Southern New Zealand has been hit by a powerful earthquake which has claimed the lives of 65 people and left over 200 hundred trapped inside damaged buildings.
The New Zealand Prime minister revealed the number of casualties and warned that the city of Christchurch’s death toll may rise.
John Key told ITV News that; “It is a just a scene of utter devastation. This may be New Zealand’s darkest day.”
The Queen spoke of her shock at the magnitude of the earthquake, and gave her support to the victims.
“My thoughts are with all those who have been affected by this dreadful event” stated the Queen.
“My thoughts are also with the emergency services and everyone who is assisting in the rescue efforts.”
Workers are scrambling to free people trapped in collapsed buildings, and vehicles buried under debris as a result of the 6.3 magnitude earthquake.
The damage caused by the quake has been reported by the Christchurch fire service as being worse then the 7.1 tremor that hit the city last year.
“The shake has been a lot worse, maybe not in intensity but as far as damage is concerned, and there are numerous people trapped,” a spokesperson for the fire service stated.
A spokesperson for the Christchurch police stated; Reports include multiple building collapses, fires in buildings in the central (city) and persons reported trapped in buildings.”
Residents of the South New Zealand city could be seen running and screaming along cracked and split roads, sirens could also be heard blaring as rescue services and paramedics rushed to aid casualties.
Helicopters flew low above the city dumping gallons of water in their attempts to control a fire in a tall office building, while a crane was used to free workers trapped in another office building.
The Christchurch airport was closed and the hospital was evacuated. The streets of the city were flooded in water after pipes burst as a result of the quake, which also knocked out power and telephone lines in the city.