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NZ Earthquake Death Toll Rises to 75; Rescuers Struggle to Save Buried Survivors

NZ Earthquake Death Toll Rises to 75; Rescuers Struggle to Save Buried Survivors

"It is just a scene of utter devastation."

CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand (AP/The Blaze) – Officials in New Zealand say the death toll from the earthquake in Christchurch has risen to 75.

Prime Minister John Key told a news conference on Wednesday that police had confirmed 75 deaths from the quake a day earlier, up from the previous total of 65.

Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker said 300 people were listed as missing but cautioned that the number trapped in collapsed buildings was not known.

Some survivors buried under rubble screamed from inside collapsed buildings.  Others tapped on the rubble to communicate with those on the outside.

More than 30 victims remain trapped in the city's Pyne Gould building where one trapped woman used her cell phone to call a local television station. Relaying details from underneath the rubble to the station anchors, Anne Voss urged rescuers to hurry.

"I rang my kids to say goodbye," Voss told the news anchors from underneath her desk where she was trapped.  "It was absolutely horrible. My daughter was crying and I was crying because I honestly thought that was it."

Voss said she could hear other people still alive in the building and had called out to them and communicated by knocking.  "I have no idea what condition they're in," Voss said, referring to her coworkers, "but I can hear them at times yelling for help."

"I'm not going to give up," Voss said. "I'm going to stay awake now. They better come and get me."

According to local news reports, the city's ambulatory service is struggling to keep up with the demand as so many people were injured:

While rescue workers are use dogs and cranes to dig out survivors, they fear the death toll may quickly rise.

"There are bodies littering the streets, they are trapped in cars, crushed under rubble and where they are clearly deceased our focus ... has turned to the living," Superintendent Russell Gibson said. "We are getting texts and tapping sounds from some of these buildings and that's where our focus is."

The powerful quake toppled the spire of the city's historic stone cathedral, flattened tall commercial office buildings and sent piles of concrete and bricks hurtling down onto cars, buses and pedestrians below.

"People were covered in rubble, covered in several tons of concrete," web designer Nathaniel Boehm said.  "It was horrific."

The earthquake also knocked out the city's power and telephone lines, and burst pipes flooded many streets with water.

According to the UK's Daily Mail, the massive quake even shook off huge chunks of ice from the country's biggest glacier, located some 120 miles outside Christchurch.

Christchurch native Trevor Loudon (NZ Patriot) said the quake was "not as big as the 7.1 earthquake" which struck near Christchurch last September, but said it was "far shallower and much closer to the city center. Much, much more violent." NZ Patriot has many more images of the devastation on the ground in Christchurch, available here.

"It is just a scene of utter devastation," New Zealand John Key Prime Minister said early Wednesday after rushing to the city immediately following the quake.

"We may well be witnessing New Zealand's darkest day," he said.

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