Countries quick to offer help in recovery effort

4:37 am on 23 February 2011

Many countries have offered their assistance in the wake of a strong earthquake which has devastated Christchurch on Tuesday.

The 6.3-magnitude quake struck the central city at 12.51pm, killing at least 65 people.

Deputy Prime Minister Bill English says a specialist search and rescue team is flying in from Australia overnight, bringing the number of personnel on the ground to 250.

Mr English says the United States has offered specialist help and a decision on this will be made by Wednesday.

Offers have also come in from Japan, the Eurpoean Union, Israel, Singapore and the United Nations.

Australia's Emergency Management Authority will work with New Zealand agencies over the delivery of any assistance.

Queen sends message of condolence

In a message to Prime Minister John Key, the Queen said she was "utterly shocked" by the news of another earthquake in Christchurch.

"Please convey my deep sympathy to the families and friends of those who have been killed; my thoughts are with all those who have been affected by this dreadful event," the statement read.

The Queen said her thoughts were also with the emergency services and everyone who is assisting in the rescue efforts.