Earthquake in New Zealand Kills at Least 65, Traps More

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CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand — A powerful earthquake struck one of New Zealand’s biggest cities Tuesday at the height of a busy workday, toppling tall buildings and churches, crushing buses and killing at least 65 people in one of the country’s worst natural disasters.

It was the second major quake to hit Christchurch, a city of 350,000, in five months, though Tuesday’s 6.3-magnitude temblor caused far more destruction than a stronger September quake that struck before dawn on a weekend. More than 100 people, including as many as a dozen visiting Japanese students, were thought to be trapped in the rubble as darkness — and drizzling rain — fell Tuesday night.

“It is just a scene of utter devastation,” Prime Minister John Key said after rushing to the city within hours of the quake. He said the death toll was 65, and may rise. “We may well be witnessing New Zealand’s darkest day.”

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