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At Least 65 Killed As 6.3-Magnitude Quake Hits New Zealand

Two women embrace in front of a collapsed building in central Christchurch on February 22.
At least 65 people have been confirmed killed in a 6.3-magnitude earthquake that has hit the southern New Zealand city of Christchurch.

New Zealand's Prime Minister John Key announced the death toll, and said there are fears the casualty toll will rise further.

The February 22 tremor hit during the midday lunch hour in New Zealand's second-largest city, collapsing buildings and sending bricks and other heavy debris toppling into busy city streets.

Sidewalks and roads were cracked open by the force of the quake, and authorities have declared a state of emergency in Christchurch.

It was the second major quake to strike Christchurch in the past five months, following a 7.1-magnitude earthquake that struck in September of last year.

compiled from agency reports