Crisis centre flooded with calls after quake
Published 23/02/2011 | 05:00
FIVE Irish people are feared dead or seriously injured following the devastating earthquake in New Zealand.
The Department of Foreign Affairs confirmed last night it was "seriously concerned" about five people while it was also "concerned" about a further 70.
Up to 200 Irish were in parts of the south island city of Christchurch, New Zealand, hit by the 6.3 magnitude earthquake.
Hundreds of calls have been lodged with the Department of Foreign Affairs Consular Crisis Centre by people worried about friends and family.
There are around 1,000 Irish nationals living in Christchurch and many buildings were destroyed by the impact.
However, it will be another day before the full extent of the number of Irish citizens who have been affected will be known, according to a spokesperson for the department.
More than 65 people have been killed while hundreds of people are believed to be trapped inside collapsed buildings.
"We are working with the authorities in New Zealand and we are not saying anything more at this stage," a spokesman said.
However, it is understood that 70 people cannot be contacted.
Staff at the honorary consulate in New Zealand and the Irish Embassy in Canberra, Australia, are urgently liaising with New Zealand government officials, local authorities and the emergency services in Christchurch.
Anyone with concerns regarding family or friends can contact the department at 01 4780822 and can also register details on the department's travel registration system.
A link to the system is available on www.dfa.ie.