An earthquake with a magnitude of 6.3 struck the New Zealand city of Christchurch on February 22, killing at least 65 people in one of the country's worst ever natural disasters.

The powerful quake also topples many tall buildings and churches and crushed vehicles in the city.

It was the second major quake to hit Christchurch, a city of 350,000, in five months, though the 6.3-magnitude tremor caused far more destruction than the more powerful September quake that struck before dawn on a weekend.
Prime Minister John Key rushed to the city within hours of the quake, saying that “it is a just a scene of utter devastation.”

He convened an emergency cabinet meeting, expressing concern over the death toll which is likely to rise.

Mayor of Christchurch Bob Parker, declared a state of emergency and ordered people to evacuate the city centre. Troops were deployed to
help evacuate people and to throw up a security cordon around the stricken area, said Deputy Prime Minister Bill English.
A search and rescue team from Australia was sent to New Zealand to help in the rescue operation, and Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard said she had offered Mr Key all the support he needed./.