A magnitude 6.3 earthquake, depth 5km, occurred 10 km south-east of Christchurch last night in New Zealand.

Current reports are that large parts of the city have been damaged and there are a number of casualties. A state of emergency has been declared in the city.

Caritas New Zealand said this morning, “We are attempting to obtain as accurate a picture as possible in terms of damage to property and lives, which we believe is considerably more than as a result of the last quake in Sep 2010.”

Caritas New Zealand does not usually respond to domestic emergencies, but works alongside Catholic Social Services and St. Vincent de Paul to channel funding for their work of trauma counselling and relief supplies respectively. Caritas is as yet unable to say what response will be. Meanwhile Caritas requests your prayers and solidarity for the victims of this event.