#eqnz — BREAKING NEWS — NZ Prime Minister confirms 65 dead so far.
Coverage from the last 60 minutes in Christchurch as reported by NZHerald.co.nz.
For the latest updates click the link at the bottom of this story
Countdown says all of its staff in the Christchurch area have been accounted for and only a small number of minor injuries have been reported.
It says the majority of Countdown stores in the Christchurch area will remain closed overnight. Countdown Rangiora is currently open with skeleton staff.
Stores will not be re-opened until it is deemed safe to do so.
Federated has set up a 24-hour emergency phone line for members needing support or wanting to report damage after the Christchurch earthquake.
The number is: 0800 327 646
Alternatively, members can email email@example.com
Air New Zealand says services to and from Christchurch Airport remain cancelled up until 7pm this evening.
It will give another update after 7pm.
GNS Science reports that another aftershock struck at 5.19pm measuring 4.6. The 13th since the 6.3 earthquake at 12.51pm.
Labour leader Phil Goff who was at Christchurch Airport when the quake struck says it was immediately clear “it was a big one”.
He says the city centre was “like a war zone” when he returned to it.
“There’s damage to buildings that weren’t damaged last time so our thoughts are with the people in Christchurch.”
Mr Goff says he intends to stay in Christchurch and to go down to the command headquarters to see what reports he can get, “and what help we can give”.
“This is a time for all of New Zealand to get behind Christchurch.”
Millennium and Copthorne Hotels NZ says it believes all the guests and staff in its hotels have been evacuated.
It says it is too early to know the extent of the damage.
The New Zealand Blood Service says contrary to some media reports it does not need extra donations of blood following today’s earthquake.
It says it has “sufficient stocks of blood at this time”.
Telecom says its telephone boxes in Christchurch are going to have free calling enabled so people in the city can call for free.
BP Oil New Zealand says that all of its Christchurch service stations have been closed subject to inspection of ground based tanks and pipes after today’s earthquakes.
They were shut as a precaution after either loss of power or damage to some forecourts.
BP NZ Managing Director Mike McGuinness says when the sites re-open, the available fuel will be quarantined for emergency services to ensure essential services can be provided to the city.
Westpac says all its Christchurch branches will be closed tomorrow.
Customers with queries should refer website or call 0800 400 600.
Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard says Australia will provide any assistance requested by New Zealand, adding the search and rescue team is”literally on its way”.
“There is likely to be a lot of searching to do under the rubble.”
Australia’s Attorney-General Robert McClelland says the search and rescue team from New South Wales is aboard a defence plane on its way to Christchurch.
If the city’s airport remained shut the plane will land at the New Zealand air force base at Blenheim.
“The team will have search, rescue, medical, engineering and support capabilities,” Mr McClelland says in a statement.
Lyttelton Port chief executive Peter Davie says the port has sustained “pretty major” damage in this afternoon’s quake.
“[The damage] is bigger than last time, but what the recovery programme is we don’t know yet,” Mr Davie says.
He says none of the port’s staff suffered any injuries in the quake, and it is unclear how long the facility would be closed for.
“At this stage we’ll say 24 hours … and we’ll go from there.”
Telecom’s external communications manager Mark Watts says the fixed line network is “holding up pretty well”, although in many instances only phones which do not require power are able to be used.
Emergency service lines are working but remained heavily congested.
The mobile network is also suffering from overloading and Mr Watts advised customers to only text and call if it was absolutely necessary.
He also said those affected by the quake should try to conserve their mobile batteries.
Civil Defence Minister John Carter says it is understood a number of significant hotels have been badly damaged and it is not known if they have been evacuated yet.
He says two companies of infantry are available to help police evacuate the central city.
“The most important point we want to address over the next 24 hours is the safety of the people.”
Mr Carter says there is no detailed information about damage or casualties in Lyttelton, near the epicentre of the quake.
He says there are no specific details on damage to schools which are now closed. Teachers have been staying with pupils until they are collected by parents or guardians.
“Over time one of the things that might be useful is for them to think about whether they take a break from Christchurch.”
Tower has set up an emergency response team to handle insurance claims following the latest earthquake.The number to call is 0800 808 808.