From The Ministry of Civil Defence, latest update as of 1950 hrs Wednesday 23 February 2011 :
" A magnitude 6.3 earthquake occurred 10km south-east of Christchurch at 12:51, February 22, 2011. Depth (focal depth): 5km. The National Crisis Management Centre has been activated.
Considerable damage has been reported in the Christchurch Central Business District and in Lyttelton. There is a cordon around the central business district. Damage assessment is ongoing and over time, will present a better understanding of the extent of damage. Rescue work is likely to take days to complete.
A large number of people have been pulled alive from collapsed buildings.
Priorities for the response remain the support of the urban search and rescue operation, the treatment and care of injured or affected individuals, and the coordination of national resources in support of the local response.
Resources are being deployed from around the country and from overseas to provide support to the Canterbury response. An 'air bridge' has been established between Christchurch and Wellington.
Damage assessment is ongoing and over time will provide a better understanding of the extent of damage.
National State of Emergency Declared
The Prime Minister Rt Hon John Key has announced that Cabinet agreed with the decision made under Civil Defence legislation by the Minister of Civil Defence, John Carter, to declare a national state of emergency.
A state of national emergency can be declared when the civil defence response is beyond the resources of the responsible local authority. In this case, there is a need to coordinate the significant amount of assistance and resources that have arrived and are arriving from other regions and from overseas. The declaration of the state of national emergency highlights the seriousness of the situation – more so even than the 4 September 2010 quake.
As at 1700 23 February, there had been 37 aftershocks with a magnitude between 4 and 6, and many smaller ones. GNS Science advises that there may be more magnitude 5 or greater aftershocks in the next few days. Aftershocks are expected to to continue and this could lead to further building damage or collapse, as well as continued distruption to power, telecommunications and essential services.
See also: http://canterburyearthquake.org.nz/"