Measuring a 6.3 magnitude, the quake also damaged surrounding communities.
New Zealand's three Urban Search & Rescue teams (USAR) were on scene within hours. The team based in Christchurch remains under strength. New Zealand's nearest neighbor, Australia, soon had plane after plane of trained personnel, including their own USAR teams, flying to the south Island.
Other nations would offer similar help. After consideration of the needs of the stricken region and the resources available to the New Zealand government, the governments of Singapore, Japan, Taiwan, the United States and the United Kingdom were asked to send personnel and material assistance.
Australia has sent 140 search and rescue personnel. 300 police officers are being sent to support and relieve Christchurch police. A medical field hospital with 75 beds and a number of medical personnel of various specialties are being sent.
116 soldiers of the Singapore Armed Forces were training in Christchurch at the time of the earthquake. None were injured and they have been deployed for rescue and relief operations. The government of Singapore is also sending a 55-member Singapore Civil Defence Force USAR team.
The Japanese are sending 60 search and rescue personnel. A number of Japanese students in Christchurch have not been accounted for, and there are fears that they have been buried in a building collapse.
At least two teams of rescue personnel are staging, awaiting clearance from New Zealand. 47 people and four sniffer dogs are scheduled to be sent.
62 rescue personnel and over 9 tons of equipment have been sent by the government of the United Kingdom. Due to the distances involved, the team is expected to arrive in Christchurch on Thursday, Feb. 24.
The United States is sending a 70-person Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) and equipment. Team Two of the Los Angeles County (California) Fire Department Urban Search and Rescue team is also
being deployed to the earthquake zone.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has offered any assistance that the United Nations can provide.
The latest report from the Civil Defence authorities is that there have been 75 deaths, with 20 of those currently unidentified. People remain trapped in several locations. The New Zealand government has declared a national state of emergency. The 26-story Hotel Grand Chancellor in the heart of Christchurch appears on the verge of collapse.