For the second time in five months, a powerful earthquake has struck one of the largest cities in New Zealand.
The 6.3 magnitude quake hit Christchurch at the height of a busy workday, toppling tall buildings and churches and killing at least 65 people. The temblor sent thousands of dazed residents racing out into the streets.
"It is just a scene of utter devastation," Prime Minister John Key said after rushing to the city within hours of the quake. He warned the death toll could rise.
"We may well be witnessing New Zealand's darkest day," he said.
CBN News New Zealand partner Shine TV reported that neighbors reached out to help one another in the aftermath.
"We grabbed our neighbors and we just put our arms around them and prayed," Christchurch resident John said. "They're not Christians. People were in such shock that we gathered them together and prayed with them."
He asked Christians worldwide to pray for the people in Christchurch.
"They're very upset. They're very shocked. There will be serious injuries if not deaths. It's been a very violent shake," John said.
Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker declared a state of emergency and ordered the city center to be evacuated. Authorities estimated that more than 100 people remain trapped in the rubble.
"The government is willing to throw everything it can in the rescue effort," Deputy Prime Minister Bill English said. "Time is going to be of essence."