Helpline set up here for families of earthquake victims
A helpline has opened for anyone concerned about family or friends caught up in the earthquake which devastated New Zealand's South Island.
The powerful 6.3-magnitude tremor struck around 10km outside the city of Christchurch, where an estimated 1,000 Irish people live, at around 1pm local time today.
More than 65 people have been killed while hundreds of people are believed to be trapped in collapsed buildings.
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said it was trying to establish if any Irish have been involved.
A spokesman said they are also trying to make contact with Irish nationals registered as being in the area.
Staff at its honorary consulate in New Zealand and the Irish Embassy in Canberra are urgently liaising with New Zealand government officials, local authorities and the emergency services in Christchurch.
"Anyone with concerns regarding family or friends who may be in the Christchurch area can contact the department at 01 4780822 and can also register details on the Department's travel registration system," he said.
A link to the system is available on www.dfa.ie.
The Department of Foreign Affairs activated its Consular Crisis Centre to deal with public queries relating to the earthquake in Christchurch. The helpline number is 01 418 0222.