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Last Updated: Wednesday February 23 2011 15:24 GMT

New Zealand: Huge earthquake devastates Christchurch

Rescue crews look for staff in the damaged Pyne Gould Guinness building in central Christchurch

A powerful earthquake has caused widespread devastation in New Zealand's second largest city, Christchurch.

A bus covered in rubble after a powerful earthquake hit Christchurch in new Zealand

The 6.3 magnitude earthquake struck a couple of miles south east of Christchurch in the middle of the day, when the city's streets were at their busiest.

A car that's been crushed by debris after an earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand

So far, at least 75 people are known to have died and many more are trapped beneath the rubble.

Damaged buildings in central Christchurch, New Zealand

The emergency services are working as quickly as they can to free survivors. At least 120 people have been saved so far, but officials fear the death toll will rise.

Rescue workers work to extinguish a fire at a collapsed building in central Christchurch, New Zealand

The military is also involved with the rescue effort and the government has accepted an offer of specialist help from Australia.

Flooding in a suburb of Christchurch, New Zealand, after a powerful earthquake hit south of the city

As the tremors hit, buildings crumbled and water pipes burst, causing flooding in many areas.

An aerial shot of the damaged cathedral after an earthquake in central Christchurch

The spire of Christchurch Cathedral, in the centre of the city, went toppling into the square below.

People in a high rise building in Christchurch New Zealand await rescue

People in high-rise buildings had to break the windows and wait for the emergency services to rescue them.

A street in Christchurch, New Zealand, showing the damage caused by the earthquake

New Zealand experiences more than 14,000 earthquakes a year, but most are fairly minor. Only a few have a magnitude of 5.0 or more.

Cars are crushed by fallen concrete after an earthquake in central Christchurch

This earthquake is said to be New Zealand's deadliest natural disaster for 80 years. Prime Minister John Key said: "We may be witnessing New Zealand's darkest day."