Christchurch earthquake: Eyewitness accounts

A powerful 6.3-magnitude earthquake has struck the city of Christchurch on New Zealand's South Island, killing at least 65 people. Residents who were at the scene have been describing their experiences.

Gary Moore, trapped with 19 colleagues in a 12th floor office after the stairwell collapsed

Rescuers search debris in Christchurch, 22 Feb 2011 Rescuers are searching the debris for trapped people

"We watched the cathedral collapse out our window while we were holding onto the walls.

"Every aftershock sends us rushing under the desks.

"It's very unnerving but we can clearly see there are other priorities out the window.

"There has been a lot of damage and I guess people are attending to that before they come and get us."

John Gurr, a camera technician who was in the centre of town when the quake hit

"I was in the square right outside the cathedral - the whole front has fallen down and there were people running from there - there were people inside as well.

"A lady grabbed hold of me to stop falling over ...

"It's not nice at all. We just got blown apart.

"Colombo Street, the main street, is just a mess ...

"There's lots of water everywhere, pouring out of the ground - its liquefaction - it's an absolute mess."

(Christchurch is built on silt, sand and gravel, with a water table under it, so that when there's an earthquake, the water rises and mixes with the sand.)

Christopher Stent, working at home in Christchurch

"The phone lines and water are not working. The roads are grid-locked as the city is being evacuated.

"I work from home and had my computer screen and printer end up in my lap, both moved a couple of feet away.

"The whole house shook. The pictures fell off the wall and it looks a bit like a bomb site.

"We weren't expecting it and it hit within seconds. My whole body felt like it was out of control.

"But I haven't been able to get hold of my son, who is a student at the University of Canterbury Christchurch. The cell-phones aren't working at all.

"My wife went to work at a pre-school this morning and I don't know what's happened to her.

"We live near the hospital so our power returned quite soon but I don't know what else to expect."

Joh Bloomberg, working in Ballantynes department store in central Christchurch

"I was clinging to this cupboard next to my desk. I thought it was going to be fine, but it got worse and worse, and went on for so long.

"It's the worst one I've felt.

"I'm normally pretty calm with things like this but when I saw a huge concrete slab on top of that car ...

"It's squashed down to zero. You never think you'll see anything like that."

Kay Cowlishaw, Christchurch resident

"There's just water pouring out and sewerage, the whole garage is filled with water. There are cracks in the road."

Sally Blundell, in Opawa, south Christchurch, says her whole house shifted on its piles

"We have no water, no power. We are really shaken. Most of us do not know what has happened to the inner city.

"We are just hearing reports on the radio and it sounds really frightening.

"The ground is still like jelly, a low level shake all the time."

Malcolm, a policeman driving in the city when the earthquake hit

"I thought I had a flat tyre, then the place was shaking like hell.

"I'm shaken, I'm at Christ College now and the school is a shambles - there's a lot of damage to the buildings.

"All of the water pipes are burst and it looks like a tsunami coming across the park.

"It's just unbelievable - just the sheer power."

Nicholas Hextall lives in central Christchurch

"There has been a lot of damage, our TVs have been smashed and there are big cracks in the house.

"Neighbours have lost brick fences."

City councilman Barry Corbett

"When the shaking had stopped I looked out of the window, which gives a great view onto Christchurch, and there was just dust.

"It was evident straight away that a lot of buildings had gone."

Jessica Maddock, Radio New Zealand reporter

"Just incredibly intense shaking. We were all literally all clinging on to our desks.

"All our monitors fell over. Huge filing cabinets of sort of one and a half metres high fell over.

"We made our way out of the building which had obvious signs of cracking in internal walls....

"I walked to the Christchurch Art Gallery which is being set up as the civil defence headquarters.

"On my journey any historic building on that route is really largely flattened.

"I saw one injured man with head injuries. He was able to walk but his head was bleeding and he was bandaged.

"People are looking shocked."

Kalena, NZ Stuff blog

"Phone lines congested. If anyone knows parents of kids at Diamond Harbour school, pls let them know all are ok."

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