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Red Cross launches New Zealand Earthquake Appeal

23 February 2011

The British Red Cross has launched an emergency appeal to help survivors of the devastating earthquake that hit Christchurch, New Zealand on 22 February 2011.

The 6.3 magnitude earthquake has killed at least 75 people and injured many more. There is widespread damage to the city, including collapsed buildings in the centre, burst sewage lines and damage to roads and bridges. Electricity supplies and telephone lines have been cut to many areas.

The New Zealand prime minister, John Key, has declared a national state of emergency and aid is being co-ordinated by the National Crisis Management Centre.

Rescue worker in rubble of New Zealand earthquake©Reuters/ AlertnetThe New Zealand Red Cross responded immediately, providing first aid assistance and distributing relief items to the displaced families, including 1,800 blankets, 2,000 water containers and 200 tents. Eight Red Cross response teams from across the country have been deployed as well as one team from the Australian Red Cross.

Barry Armstrong, British Red Cross disaster response manager, said: "Although New Zealand was well prepared for a major earthquake such as this, there has been severe damage and tragic loss of life.

"Recovery from a disaster of this size will take years, but the Red Cross focus at the moment is on the immediate emergency response to make sure people get the help they need as quickly as possible."

The teams are working with the civil defence, New Zealand police, and local councils and agencies to assess the needs and determine how the Red Cross can best assist. They are working at welfare centres across the city, and helping with search and rescue operations and logistics. One evacuation centre has been opened for around 2,000 people and more temporary accommodation is likely to be needed.

Red Cross workers delivering relief goods in Christchurch© InfoThe Red Cross has also started helping people reach their loved ones through the restoring family links service and a telecommunications team has been sent to Christchurch.

As well as launching the appeal, the British Red Cross has made an initial £50,000 donation from its Disaster Fund. All funds raised through the British Red Cross New Zealand Earthquake Appeal will be used to support the New Zealand Red Cross response to the disaster.

Please note: In the event that we receive donations after the New Zealand Red Cross has closed its appeal, any surplus funds will go to our Disaster Fund and be used to respond to future humanitarian disasters either overseas or here in the UK.