The Government of Christchurch has declared a national state of emergency after yesterday’s 6.3 magnitude earthquake. Prime Minister John Key said a national emergency would allow the greatest possible coordination of local, national, and international resources to work on rescue and recovery efforts.

At least 75 people have been confirmed dead in the earthquake and more reports of deaths are coming. The earthquake has devastated the centre of Christchurch, destroying buildings and infrastructure in the city. The central city was likely to be out of action for some time.

Declaring a national state of emergency is an option when a disaster or other event is or is likely to be of such severity that it is beyond the resources of the local Civil Defence groups.

New Zealand flags are flying at half mast on all Government buildings today to honour the victims of yesterday’s devastating quake in Christchurch. The gesture is intended as a mark of respect for those who have been killed, injured or left with damaged homes.

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