NZ earthquake leaves hundreds dead or missing
The 6.3-magnitude earthquake that struck the New Zealand city of Christchurch yesterday has left at least 75 people dead and another 300 people missing. The quake, which is the deadliest to hit New Zealand in 80 years, has toppled multiple buildings in the South Island city, leaving rescuers to search through debris for people still trapped in the rubble. The country’s Prime Minster, John Key, has declared a national emergency.
“New Zealanders have woken to a tragedy unfolding in the great city of Christchurch,” Key said. “The earthquake that struck the Canterbury region at 10 to one yesterday has wreaked death and destruction on a dreadful scale.”
Authorities in the country said that the death toll was certain to rise. Yesterday’s quake toppled many buildings which had been weakened by the 7.1-magnitude quake that hit the area in September. The city’s cathedral was reported to have half collapsed.
Channel NewsAsia reported rescue workers describing bed scenes of “incredible carnage”, with “bodies littering the streets”. Up to 500 emergency workers are searching the wreckage.
Christchurch airport reopened this morning, and Air New Zealand will operate a second return Boeing 747 service between Auckland and Christchurch this afternoon to cater for relatives of those affected by the quake and emergency services. The airline will also operate a special Airbus A320 service from Wellington to Christchurch today.
In the hotel sector, the 26-storey Hotel Grand Chancellor building is reported to be on the verge of collapse. The building, which is one of the tallest in the city, is severely leaning and floors inside the building are believed to have collapsed. Elsewhere, the Peppers Clearwater Resort announced that it is still open for business, despite the fact that electricity has not yet been restored in the area, while Best Western said that its two properties in Christchurch were “extremely lucky” to escape any serious damage.