NZ Quake: Death toll rises as recovery continues
PM declares state of emergency as city reels in earthquake aftermath
New Zealand Prime Minister John Key has declared a state of emergency as the death toll from Monday’s earthquake rises to 76.
The southern city of Christchurch was hit by a quake measuring 6.3 on the Richter Scale, decimating homes, offices, shops and several of the city’s most iconic buildings.
Hundreds remain trapped in the rubble as workers struggle through the twisted wreckage of dozens of buildings to free survivors of the earthquake. Rail links to the city have been compromised, roads have been cut off by landslides, and surrounding communities have also suffered major damage.
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“It’s like the whole place has been lifted up and dropped: it’s incredible. I can’t believe this has happened,” one eye witness said.
Police have said there is "incredible carnage right throughout the city", with "bodies littering the streets".
More than 300 people are still missing. Forty-eight were pulled out from collapsed buildings alive overnight.
The search has now been abandoned at one office block, but elsewhere a woman was rescued after more than 24 hours.
"The situation is that we don't believe this site is now survivable," said police area commander Inspector Dave Lowry near the remains of the Canterbury Television building. "It was a hard choice and my heart goes out to all the families."
About 100 people are believed to be inside. Earlier, the head of the fire service denied reports that 15 people trapped inside had been rescued.
The city’s cathedral suffered severe damage when the bell tower broke free and crashed to the ground, while 24 people were rescued from the Pyne Gould Guinness building and dogs have detected another seven still alive. The earthquake flattened the four-storey structure where hundreds worked.