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CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand -- Office workers trapped under their collapsed buildings sent messages to the outside as rescuers with dogs scrambled to save them and dozens of others following a powerful earthquake that killed at least 65 in one of New Zealand's largest cities.
At least 100 people were reportedly missing and believed buried. Search teams assisted by floodlights and earth movers worked through dawn Wednesday, trying to dig through crumbled concrete, twisted metal and huge mounds of brick.
Medical workers brought the injured to a triage center set up in a park in central Christchurch, while military units patrolled near-empty streets disfigured by the huge cracks and canyons created in Tuesday's 6.3-magnitude quake, the second powerful temblor to hit Christchurch in five months.
The quake toppled the spire of the city's historic stone cathedral, flattened tall buildings and sent chunks of concrete and bricks hurtling onto cars, buses and pedestrians below.
Web designer Nathaniel Boehm was outside on his lunch break when the quake struck just before 1 p.m. He saw the eaves of buildings cascade onto the street, burying people below.
Others tried to claw their way in, but he didn't see anyone come out.
"People were covered in rubble, covered in several tons of concrete," he said. "It was horrific."
Thousands of people in the city moved into temporary shelters at schools and community halls. Others, including tourists who had abandoned their hotels, huddled in hastily pitched tents and under plastic sheeting as drizzling rain fell, while the Red Cross tried to find them accommodation.
A search-and-rescue team was being flown in from Australia, and the United States also dispatched a team to help.
A U.S. delegation of 43 government, business and community leaders was in Christchurch on Tuesday for a United States New Zealand Partnership Forum meeting. All were safe, the State Department said. Nine U.S. Congressmen attending the meeting were reported to have left the city before the quake struck.
A more powerful 7.1 magnitude earthquake hit Christchurch, a city of 350,000, on Sept. 4, but caused no deaths. The latest one may have been deadlier because it was closer to where people live and work, centered 3 miles (5 kilometers) from the city, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. It also may not have been as deep underground.
The Christchurch airport, initially closed, was reopened Tuesday to emergency flights, and airport officials said domestic flights would resume on Wednesday.