"A major search and rescue operation is underway in Christchurch yesterday where at least 100 people remain trapped under rubble.
Construction workers and search and rescue specialists toiled under floodlights to dig out survivors and the dead from buildings flattened by the earthquake that ripped the city apart.
Dozens of search and rescue and medical staff have arrived to continue with the frantic recovery effort.
Yesterday's earthquake has claimed at least 65 lives and scores more are injured in what Prime Minister John Key says "may well be New Zealand's darkest day".
The death toll is already the second highest from a New Zealand earthquake - outranked only by the 256 people killed in the violent 7.9 1931 Hawke's Bay quake, whose 70th anniversary was marked earlier this month.
Police have reported "multiple fatalities" at several locations in the downtown area, including in buses crushed by falling buildings.
Buildings have been destroyed with at least 100 people believed to be trapped inside. Rescuers warned some people remained trapped overnight."
KUALA LUMPUR(Bernama): All 390 Malaysian students in Christchurch are reported to be safe Tuesday after a strong earthquake hit the New Zealand city, toppling buildings, igniting fires and causing many deaths.
"Officers from our High Commission in Wellington went to Christchurch after the earthquake struck this morning and found the students safe," said Deputy Foreign Minister Senator A. Kohilan Pillay.
The earthquake, measuring 6.3 on the Richter scale, had cut off telecommunication links and disrupted power, making contacts with the students difficult.
Kohilan told Bernama that the High Commission had been directed to monitor the situation from Christchurch.
"At this end, Wisma Putra will open an operations room which will keep in touch with our people out there," he said.
The students are studying at the Canterbury, Otago and Lincoln universities. The Malaysian High Commission in New Zealand can be contacted at +64 421 868801 or +64 4385 2439 (contact person Datuk Dr Rosli Mohammed, Director and Counsellor of Education).
Canterbury Malaysian Students Association president Poh Eng Eu told Bernama through e-mail that his house was shaken but no visible structural damage occurred.
"The situation in the city is quite bad with 65 reported casualties so far. Telephone connection is not really good, it's hard to get hold of people so we just using send text messages most of the time," said the Petaling Jaya lad.
According to him, since the news of the earthquake broke out, he had been bombarded with calls and text messages from family members and relatives from not only Malaysia but other countries as well.
Poh said he had also contacted the Malaysian Students Department liaison officer in Wellington and told them about the situation.
This disaster follows the earthquake of Sept 4 in Christchurch which was the most destructive that New Zealand had suffered in 80 years when a 7.0 magnitude tremor damaged 100,000 homes.
There were no fatalities, but buildings were reported to have been damaged and weakened, and the city centre was cordoned off for weeks for fear that some would collapse. -