The New Zealand prime minister John Key says 65 people have died from today's 6.3 magnitude quake, that struck just before 1pm.
Mr Key revealed the devastating news a short time ago. More deaths are expected.
The mayor of Christchurch Bob Parker said on television a few minutes ago people should prepare themselves for 'significant' numbers of death.
Civil Defence authorities say they will be working overnight to rescue people still trapped under buildings.
Christchurch was hit by a massive seven point one quake last September and has been wracked by aftershocks since, including a 4.9 one just before Christmas.
The city is home to a big Fiji community.
About 80 per cent of the city is without power and the phone lines are said to be jammed so they may be having difficulty reaching family and friends to let them know they're okay.
Coupfourpointfive will bring information as it can.