Damage can be seen throughout the city where buildings have collapsed and cars crushed under falling debris. Roads have been blocked by the rubble and wardens are warning people away from older buildings, fearing they may still collapse.
Many people received minor injuries, but one man is in intensive care after being hit by a falling chimney, and another received severe injuries when he was cut by glass.
Though all Christchurch hospitals are operational, citizens are being urged to avoid going to them for anything other than a medical emergency. For people with lesser injuries, the 24-hour surgery on Bealey Avenue, and the Riccarton and Moorhouse after hours medical centres are open.
Central Christchurch has been cordoned off by police not only because it’s dangerous, but because there have already been reports of looting, according to Inspector Mike Coleman.
“Shop windows are broken and obviously it’s easy pickings for displays and things.”
Police have been swamped with calls in the first few hours after the quake, with about 300 people worried about the welfare of their loved-ones.
“We’re telling people to check their neighbours…and obviously to go to their Civil Defence centre if they feel unsafe in their houses,” Mr Coleman said.
“Stay off the roads and also avoid the central city. We’ve got considerable road damage, there’s gas leaks, there’s been damaged water pipes, we’ve got sewage in houses and quite a lot of power lines and power poles down. It’s very unsafe to be out and about.”