Sources informed that many have been arrested from the city for thefts. Citing the unrest and possibility of more accidents following the quake, the government issued a strict night curfew in Christchurch.
"All entry to a 'restricted access zone' would be blocked from 6:30 pm, to prevent crime and with safety fears for the collapse of further buildings," sources reported quoting the government spokesperson. Police said that they would arrest people who are found in the central city after 6:30 pm.
Emergency services cordoned off central Christchurch. Prime Minister, John Key, declared a national emergency. The latest tremor toppled many buildings and left central Christchurch strewn with debris. The city's landmark cathedral lost its spire. Dozens of aftershocks rocked the city, much of which was without power and water.
Rescue teams are still hopeful to save many out of the debris. Local media reported, "There is incredible carnage right throughout the city. There are bodies littering the streets, they are trapped in cars and crushed under rubble."
"We are getting texts and tapping sounds from some of these buildings and that's where the focus is at the moment," rescue operators stated.
Specialist teams from Australia, Britain, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan and the United States were due to join the New Zealand rescuers as an international effort swung into action.
New Zealand had experienced another massive temblor with 7.0 magnitude in Sep 2010 but miraculously the quake caused no deaths. This time, the earthquake was of 6.3 magnitude which is believed to be New Zealand's worst natural disaster in the last 80 years.
(With inputs from PTI)