A devastating earthquake struck Christchurch, New Zealand, several hours ago, killing at least 65 people. According to the Associated Press, at least 100 more people are missing and believed to be buried. Search teams are digging through the wreckage to find survivors and medical workers are striving to help those injured by the 6.3-magnitude quake, the second major quake to hit Christchurch, a city of 350,000, in five months. A more powerful 7.1 magnitude earthquake hit the area on Sept. 4, but caused no deaths because it was farther from heavily populated areas of the city.
The earthquake destroyed the spire of the city’s historic stone cathedral. Tall buildings were flattened, sending chunks of concrete and bricks hurtling onto cars, buses and pedestrians below, AP reports.
Thousands of people in the city moved into temporary shelters at schools, community halls, in tents or under plastic sheeting.
Search-and-rescue teams are flying in from Australia, the United States, and elsewhere.
Chris Wilkinson of First Retail in Wellington — about a 35 minute flight from Christchurch — says, “While central Christchurch is an absolute disaster, some of the surrounding suburbs and outlying towns are relatively unscathed. While they are desperately worried, they are also trying to maintain some business continuity wherever possible. It’s wonderful to see everyone is rallying to help them — and those less fortunate.”
Wilkinson and his staff are among those trying to help. “Our team was in early today to do whatever we could for clients and those we know there,” he says. “I have just come off the telephone with a supplier that is hiring a truck to get supplies into Christchurch later today. The distributor of Adventa Instant Photo Gifts has teamed up with other wholesalers and is helping get product through to stores against the odds. They are also loading the truck with basic foodstuffs to help in case of need. Currently there are no couriers operating into the region hence their initiative.”
“All PMA members in Christchurch city center will have to remain closed for an indefinite period. Access is restricted as emergency services struggle to find victims and secure buildings. The impact on peoples lives has been immense,” Wilkinson states. “Indeed, the New Zealand Prime Minister has said that these are our darkest days. Our thoughts are with friends and colleagues in Christchurch.”
View a CBS News video segment on the quake here.