Following an earthquake with a 6.3-magnitude on Tuesday, at least 65 people are dead in New Zealand, with scores more trapped. The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake, which hit at 12:51 p.m. local time, measured a depth of 2.5 miles.
Rescue crews with sniffer dogs are still searching for survivors in Christchurch, a city with a population of 350,000. Many of the trapped are sending text messages or making phone calls to try to help rescuers locate them.
Today’s earthquake was so enormous that a massive chunk of ice — 30 million tons worth — shook off from the country’s biggest glacier 120 miles away. The quake is being reported as one of New Zealand’s worst natural disasters in decades, although it is the second major one to strike Christchurch since September. Fortunately, however, no one perished in 2010′s earthquake. New Zealand’s worst earthquake occurred in 1931, killing 256 people.
“It is just a scene of utter devastation,” Prime Minister John Key said after rushing to the city, according to CBS News. “We may well be witnessing New Zealand’s darkest day.”
Tall buildings collapsed in on themselves, sidewalks and roads are being reported as cracked and split, and news reports say that thousands of “dazed, screaming and crying residents” are wandering the streets. An evacuation of the city center has been ordered by the mayor. Damage is also being reported in nearby towns.
The death toll is expected to rise as the cleanup from the disaster continues. New Zealand military and U.S. support is said to be helping in the rescue and recovery efforts. Thoughts and prayers are with everyone in New Zealand at this time.
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