Christchurch quake: National emergency declared as toll reaches 75

Wellington, Feb 23 (ANI): The New Zealand government has declared a national state of emergency following yesterday's 6.3 magnitude earthquake in Christchurch that killed at least 75 people.

The death toll is expected to rise as more bodies were still being found and identified till reports last came in, reports.

The devastating earthquake has reportedly destroyed a huge number of buildings, and other infrastructure in the city.

Insisting that the earthquake has brought "death and destruction on a dreadful scale", Prime Minister John Key has said that a national emergency would possibly allow greatest coordination of local, national, and international resources to work on rescue and recovery efforts, the report said.

Key also said that the damage done by the quake will have a significant economic impact on Christchurch and New Zealand. He further said that last September's earthquake was estimated to have cost between six and eight billion dollars, adding that the latest incident is expected to be far more costly.

According to the Civil Defence Ministry, about 950 people were accommodated at two welfare centres last night, where food, and blankets were provided to the victims.

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett has said that her department is setting up more welfare centres once buildings were declare safe to use.

"The advice is to stay at home if people can and to check on their neighbours and if they need any help or advice, call the Government helpline. Financial assistance will also be made available to those who need it, we have the ability to provide Civil Defence emergency payments and other assistance is available, Bennett said.

The city had experienced a 7.1 magnitude earthquake on September 4, 2010. The latest quake had reportedly happened at a shallow depth of five to six kilometres below the ground.

Yesterday, Key had said that the quake could prove to be New Zealand's "darkest day", adding: "It's an absolute tragedy for this city, for New Zealand, for the people we care so much about and it's a terrifying time for the people of Canterbury." (ANI)

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