That concludes tonight's latest updates. They'll resume around 6am tomorrow morning. Thanks.
A new welfare centre has opened at the Rolleston Community Centre in Christchurch and will take 150 people.
Civil Defence says the facility will accommodate people from existing centres at Burnside High School and Cowles Stadium. It has all services, including sanitation and power.
Christchurch city schools and early childhood centres will remain closed until further notice.
A team of 30 Ministry of Education assessors is working its way around schools, to determine how safe they are.
Education Minister Anne Tolley says it's clear many school buildings have been badly affected. Schools particularly damaged are Christchurch Girls High, Avonside Girls High, Shirley Boys High, Manning Intermediate, Mt Pleasant Primary and the Van Asch Deaf Education Centre.
The ministry is working on alternative arrangements for students who won't be able to return to classes.
Parents are asked to contact their children's schools for further information.
The Civil Aviation Authority is extending the restricted air space requirement over central Christchurch to enable USAR (urban search and rescue) teams to more effectively use listening equipment and other technical tools to detect signs of life within the search areas.
The exclusion zone is currently the area bounded by the Four Avenues (Bealey/Fitzgerald/Moorhouse/Rolleston). This will now be extended to the area bounded approximately by Edgeware Road, Linwood Ave, Ensors Road, Brougham Street, Park Terrace and Papanui Road.
This is effective from tonight until further notice.
Wallabies coach Robbie Deans has praised his former Crusaders franchise for withdrawing from Saturday's Super Rugby clash against the Hurricanes following this week's devastating earthquake.
One of Canterbury's favourite sons, Deans said the earthquake which hit Christchurch on Tuesday put sport into perspective and the Crusaders made the correct decision not to travel to Wellington.
The five-time Super Rugby title winning coach said the Crusaders players efforts would be best served at home, keeping their families safe and helping the community.
"It (rugby) is just not a priority right now," Deans said today. "It's a good decision to stick around and stick at home and support the community and support people and get them through it."
The Crusaders-Hurricanes match will be declared a draw with both teams awarded two points, while the round three clash between the Crusaders and NSW Waratahs is set to be moved away from Christchurch's extensively-damaged AMI Stadium.
Police are appealing for understanding from families as they work to identify the bodies of people killed in Tuesday's Christchurch earthquake.
"We know it's an agonising wait for families desperate to find out about their loved-ones, but there is a legal requirement for this work to be completed to standards set by the Coroner," police disaster victim identification (DVI) commander Mike Wright said.
Police were required to follow the international process of disaster victim identification.
This did not rely solely on visual identification as it had been found that in such stressful conditions distraught relatives could often mistakenly identify loved ones.
At least 106 staff are working on identification which included using fingerprints, DNA, dental records and personal information.
"They are working as quickly as they can while ensuring they are being methodical and thorough," Mr Wright said.
Fifty chief executives were today briefed by Prime Minister John Key, Finance Minister Bill English and Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee during a two-hour teleconference.
The executives are members of Business NZ's Major Companies Group CEO Forum, which meet two to three times a year.
Fonterra's chief executive and forum chairman Andrew Ferrier told NZPA the group cleared the meeting's agenda to talk about the earthquake recovery effort.
"The talk was about how do we bring confidence to people of Christchurch right back into the community. Everybody wants to do that, nobody wants to walk away from Christchurch," he said.
"You've had 4000 aftershocks up until Tuesday and then this massive earthquake. People are worried and companies are worried about their people."
The companies developed a steering group to co-ordinate private sector support.
They identified a number of key areas they could help with, including water, housing, infrastructure, health services, telecommunications and financial services.
Each chief executive is develop an action plan for each of those areas in consultation with Civil Defence and the Government.
Power issues with the Christchurch phone network continue tonight, Telecom says.
The company had set up about 60 generators at network sites without power. Eastern parts of the city weres particularly affected, it said.
About 10,000 calls were made from 260 free payphones in and around the city yesterday, and free WiFi was also available at Telecom Riccarton Mall, Cafe Zero and the Westpac Centre in Addington.
The telecommunications company said it had so far collected 2000 analogue landline phones, which do not need electricity, to distribute to those in need.
It advised Christchurch residents to use a landline when possible or text when using a cellphone to free up the network for emergency response teams.
The company was setting up a text donation service for the Red Cross appeal. People could text 4419 to make an automatic $3 donation.
The Lyttelton tunnel, badly damaged in the earthquake that struck Christchurch on Tuesday, will reopen to all traffic on Saturday.
The tunnel was closed immediately following the earthquake, as rockfalls caused significant damage to its canopy and to the tunnel control building.
The tunnel was re-opened for use by emergency vehicles at 6.30pm on Tuesday.
There are at least 106 staff working on the victim identification process which includes identifying people through fingerprints, DNA, dental records and personal information.
"We know it's an agonising wait for families desperate to find out about their loved-ones, but there is a legal requirement for this work to be completed to standards set by the Coroner," said Mike Wright, New Zealand Police disaster victim identification commander.
"They are working as quickly as they can while ensuring they are being methodical and thorough."
Police are required to follow an international process which does not rely solely on visual identification. In stressful conditions distraught relatives often mistakenly identify loved ones.
The coroner has reassured families that someone is with the bodies of their loved ones at all times.
She said they should alert Red Cross to unique features or clothing such as rings, tattoos, or scars which could help identify people.
Accuracy was paramount and the identification process would not be a quick one, she warned.
Police have named four of the deceased, including two babies both less than a year old.
Supt Dave Cliff says authorities are "gravely concerned" for the 226 reported missing and warns that the number may rise.
The majority of the 98 victims are expected to be included in that figure.
Education Minister Anne Tolley says while Christchurch City schools and early childhood education centres remain closed until further notice, some schools in Selwyn and Waimakariri may be able to open after the weekend.
"A team of 30 Ministry of Education assessors is currently working its way around schools to determine how safe they are and the extent of the damage, but it's already clear that many have been badly affected.
"The Ministry is currently working on alternative arrangements for students who won't initially be able to return to their schools, and more information will be made available in due course."
A website has been set up to coordinate support for IT businesses in Christchurch. See http://business.eq.org.nz/ if you are in need of, or can offer, help.
There are now 92 bodies in a temporary morgue set up by police in Christchurch, Prime Minister John Key says.
Mr Key told Prime News the death toll has gone up since earlier today and is likely to rise further.
"This is an earthquake that has really shaken Canterbury to its core."
Dozens of Christchurch residents have been flown out of the city to receive medical treatment in Auckland.
Auckland Hospital and Starship Hospital are now treating six Christchurch patients in the aftermath of Tuesday's 6.3 magnitude earthquake - including two injured children who arrived yesterday afternoon.
Another 35 home dialysis patients are set to receive treatment at Counties-Manukau, Waitemata and Northland.
Medical staff from Auckland hospitals have also been sent to help with medical care on the ground in Christchurch.
Six general surgery nurses with paediatric and adult medical experience and three intensive care nurses have been sent from Auckland DHB.
Another three intensive care nurses have been sent to the city from Waitemata DHB.
Two Fonterra vats with 4,500 litres of water have been delivered to Christchurch. The first vat is at Shirley Intermediate, corner of North Parade and Shirley Rd, and the second at Chisnallwood Intermediate, Breezes Rd, Aranui.
There are already water containers at Phillipstown School, South New Brighton School, Shirley Primary, Wainoni Primary, Lyttelton School, Burnside High, Hagley Park (Harper Ave) & Latimer Square.
An oil company claims a rush of people "panic buying" is needlessly draining fuel stocks in Christchurch.
Caltex spokeswoman Sharon Buckland says many petrol stations have run out of fuel because anxious residents are queuing to fill up.
She is urging residents not to fill up unless it is necessary to ensure fuel is available to supply emergency vehicles conducting rescue and recovery operations throughout the city
"Our stocks are running out within four hours. That's not usual. That's driven by panic buying.
"There's no need for it. There is plenty of fuel. We have significant supply in other centres."
A fuel pipeline from Lyttelton that supplied Christchurch has only just come back online after a safety check.
Caltex has been sourcing fuel from Timaru, Dunedin and Nelson to supply Christchurch while it has been shut down.
Despite the problems with supply, Ms Buckland says 19 out of the company's 21 Christchurch stations remain open and more fuel is constantly coming in.
"I know there is a high level of anxiety in the city - people want to be able to see their family, see their friends. We're asking for patience.
"If you've got half a tank of gas, stay home."
The Methodist Church of New Zealand, based in Christchurch, has confirmed three people died when the Duhram St church collapsed during Tuesday's earthquake.
The Church's President is launching an appeal throughout the Methodist Church and those associated with it. Anyone wishing to contribute to this disaster fund should forward donations to Methodist Church of New Zealand Administration Division, PO Box 931, Christchurch.
Another aftershock rocked Christchurch at 3.54pm measuring 3.4, 10km east of the city GNS Science reports.
Housing New Zealand has set up a helpline and website for people offering and needing accommodation after the Christchurch earthquake.
Housing Minister Phil Heatley said Housing New Zealand would also be providing extra temporary accommodation for displaced residents.
Contact 0800 HELP 00 (0800 435 700) or http://www.housinghelp.govt.nz/ or go to one of the welfare centres.
BP Oil New Zealand says its Lyttelton oil terminal has now re-opened following a thorough safety inspection.
It says opening the terminal will significantly assist BP to replenish its stocks in the Canterbury region, and to ensure fuel supply over the coming weeks.
Fonterra is installing five milk vats filled with fresh water around Christchurch.
CEO Andrew Ferrier says the company is filling the containers - which can hold 21,000 litres each - and dropping them at school centres in the city.
"We've got an additional 22 of these containers around the South Island and our people on the ground are currently co-ordinating with Civil Defence to get these to communities in Christchurch as quickly as possible."
Welfare centres are fully stocked and do not need any more donations of food, bedding or other goods, the Christchurch City Council says.
It says welfare centres are at Pioneer Stadium, Burnside High, Cowles Stadium, and Rangiora Baptist Church. Pioneer has capacity for urgent cases. Contrary to some reports, there is no welfare centre at Lincoln.
Fresh water is available at Christchurch South Intermediate School, Selwyn Street from 3pm today. Bring your own containers. Water stations also at Grassmere, Glenroy, Montreal Sts, Aston Drive, Waltham School. See canterburyearthquake.org.nz for full list.
The New Zealand Contractors' Federation has established a call centre to help coordinate civil contractors who can assist with the relief operation in Christchurch.
Civil Contractors can complete demolition, remove and clean-up materials resulting from liquefaction and building collapse, complete earthworks, repair drains and provide transport for materials associated with the clean up.
The call centre will be manned from 8am-5pm and take email inquiries at other times. Freephone 0800 692376 or email Christchurch@nzcontractors.co.nz.
Canterbury University advises that a triage centre has not been set up in its grounds. The information was wrongly included in a Civil Defence release.
There have been at least 36 aftershocks greater than magnitude 4 and four aftershocks above magnitude 5 since Tuesday's 6.3 magnitude earthquake. GNS Science advises that there may be more magnitude 5 or greater aftershocks in the next few days.
Civil Defence says aftershocks are expected to continue and this could lead to further building damage or collapse, as well as continued disruption to power, telecommunications and essential services.
The Government will give the Student Volunteer Army $20,000 to help them with their operations, Social Development Minister Paula Bennett has announced.
"Just as they did after last September's earthquake, students led by Sam Johnson are swinging into action and it's truly humbling to see," says Paula Bennett.
The money will help pay for equipment like wheelbarrows and shovels so they can continue with cleaning up liquefaction, clearing driveways and helping residents with basic labouring work.
164 people have been admitted to Christchurch Hospital with earthquake related injuries.
Maternity services are busy, as is the neonatal intensive care unit - with some babies being transferred to other units around the country.
Police say the release of lists of the dead and injured will be delayed.
Canterbury District Commander Superintendent Dave Cliff will provide an update on progress with the lists at a media briefing at 6pm this evening at the Christchurch Art Gallery.
Thai newspaper The Nation reports that six nursing students from Thailand are missing after the Christchurch earthquake.
Some petrol stations in Christchurch remain closed after the earthquake. The ones that are open have queues running out onto the road.
* Caltex on Riccarton Road has a sign out saying "No fuel".
* BP on Riccarton Road has run out of unleaded 91.
There is a strong Army presence in Christchurch with trucks and personnel carriers in the city.
Members of the Army are also manning cordons around the CBD and have helped dig vehicles in the suburb of Bexley.
St John is still responding to increases in heart problems, chest pains, breathing problems and traumatic injuries (brain injuries, chest and limb injuries, and crush injuries).
In the first 24 hours following the earthquake calls were up over 150 percent on a daily average for the previous year. In the 24 hours to 8am this morning they were down to 44 percent on a daily average for the previous year.
St John has seven people stationed at each of the welfare centres at Burnside High, Pioneer Stadium, Cowles Stadium and Rangiora.
A second, more sophisticated email scam has emerged targeting people wanting to help victims of the Christchurch earthquake.
The scam is designed to look like it is from the Red Cross, directing people to a fake website where they are asked for credit card details.
Signs the site was bogus included the misspelling of Christchurch and other words, the long web address which was not hosted on the Red Cross website, and the insecure payment page.
Another scam used emails sent from "James McCoy" claiming to be from Donate4Charity NZ, a legitimate United Kingdom-based charity.
Here's a list of the road closures around Christchurch.
A group of concerned Rangiora volunteers is running loads of water into the Christchurch suburbs most desperately in need.
The 'Rangiora Earthquake Express' is asking local residents to search their households for useable water containers that can be sealed, to sanitise those containers and to fill them with Rangiora tap water.
The drop-off point is the car park of Chervier Centre (next to the Catholic Church), 41 Victoria St, Rangiora, from 10.30am onwards daily.
Cold and wet weather is expected to set in over Christchurch tonight, WeatherWatch.co.nz reports.
The website's forecasters are predicting light to moderate rain combined with a low overnight temperatures of 7 or 8 degrees this evening and tomorrow.
Head analyst Philip Duncan says that will give residents a chance to catch drinking water in paddling pools, buckets and from their guttering.
GeoNet reports that another aftershock hit Christchurch at 2.18pm measuring 3.7, 20km south-east of the city.
The Air Force are moving more than 200 residents of damaged Christchurch rest homes to new accommodation around the South Island, Health Minister Tony Ryall says.
Mr Ryall says the elderly and vulnerable residents - some in need of hospital level care - need a safe place to live because their homes were left unihabitable by Tuesday's 6.3 magnitude quake.
"In some cases that means moving out of the region."
About 20 properties which provide disability care are also uninhabitable, he says. Their residents are being moved to other disability service providers around New Zealand.
Otago's Heidi McQuillan is planning to head up State Highway One to bake for those in need in Christchurch. Dunedin residents can bring non-perishable baked goods (appropriately packaged), baking ingredients and coffee beans to the Centre for Innovation reception, 87 St David St, Dunedin and they will be transported to Christchurch at 5pm today.
The Ellerslie Flower Show has been cancelled and tickets will be refunded by Ticketek. (Newstalk ZB)
For lost or found dogs people should contact Animal Control (021 240 8310) or visit 10 Metro Place - Open 8:00am to 6:00pm.
The Hollywood Reporter reports today that Peter Jackson and the rest of the Hobbit production team have stepped up to offer any practical assistance they can. Jackson said:
"Everyone involved in the production of The Hobbit is shocked and saddened by the earthquake and its devastating aftermath. Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Christchurch and all those affected by this terrible tragedy."
90 students and staff from King's Education Ltd, housed in Christchurch's earthquake-ravaged Canterbury TV building, are either missing or unaccounted for.
Of those, 58 were "new Monday starters", nine were staff - King's Education managing director Brian Taylor among them - 10 were from the Toyama Study Group from Japan, while 13 were "other students" according to the institution's website.
Civil Defence have reminded Christchurch residents not to use lifts, even if the power seems to have been restored.
Police spokesman Dave Cliff said a number of people are believed to have been struck with debris and buried when the Christchurch Cathedral collapsed and said there was "no possibility of survivors" at the site. He says 238 people are still described as "missing" - although this status may be due to a multitude of reasons.
Defence Minister Wayne Mapp has visited Lyttelton today and said it was "heavily devastated".
"I was told there haven't been any deceased in Lyttelton itself," he said. "There is anxiety. The central part has essentially been destroyed. there is one supermarket - that supermarket is closed. There is no petrol station. There is no running water, like much of the city."
He said people in the town are reliant on the Navy for food.
Police Minister Judith Collins said there are 76 people in Christchurch morgues at the moment.
She described the PGC Building as a "scene of utter devastation".
She praised the rescue workers' efforts, many of whom have lost their own homes in the quake.
An Australian Army Field hospital is due to arrive in Christchurch this afternoon. It is a 75 bed hospital and will be utilised over the coming days.
The field hospital will be run by six emergency department doctors, 13 nurses, general surgery staff, orthopaedic staff, general trauma, anaesthetists and support staff.
There are grim reports that more body bags are being removed from the CTV building site.
Saturday's NRL rugby league trial between the Warriors and Manly at North Harbour Stadium will be dedicated to Christchurch earthquake victims. All profits from the match will be donated to the Red Cross appeal.
Auckland Council has announced a $1.5 million donation to the Christchurch earthquake relief effort.
Mayor Len Brown says the donation shows the concern and compassion Aucklanders feel for those who have lost loved ones and homes in the 6.3 magnitude quake on Tuesday.
The council has also committed its staff and resources to helping in the quake recovery for the next year, he says.
Council civil defence committee chair Michael Goudie says hundreds of people from around Canterbury are being taken into Auckland homes.
Thirty six flights filled with evacuees will arrive today, he says.
The Christchurch phone network is still being plagued by power issues two days after the city's devastating quake, Telecom says.
More than 30 generators have been flown in for use at network sites without power.
About 10,000 calls were made from 260 free payphones in and around the city yesterday, and free WiFi was also available at Telecom Riccarton Mall, Cafe Zero and the Westpac Centre in Addington.
Electricity company Orion has published this map showing where the power outages are in Christchurch (as of 5pm yesterday).
President Barack Obama called Prime Minister John Key just before midday and the pair had a discussion lasting about five minutes.
The PM explained the situation facing Christchurch and Canterbury.
The President asked about ongoing aftershocks and reiterated that the United States stood ready to provide further help, should New Zealand need it.
The Prime Minister thanked the President for the offers of help made so far by the United States, and told him of the government's determination to rebuild the city.
Contingency plans have been put in place to cope with the death toll from Christchurch's devastating earthquake reaches, says the Chief Coroner, Judge Neil MacLean.
Mortuary facilities were in place at Christchurch Hospital and Burnham Military Camp and so far there was no need to transfer the bodies of earthquake victims out of the region, Judge MacLean said.
Prime Minister John Key said Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee was to give up his other portfolios to concentrate on the quake recovery.
Simon Power would take over as Leader of the House, David Carter would become acting Minister for Economic Developement, and Hekia Parata was to become acting Minister of Energy and Resources, said Mr Key.
FIFA president Sepp Blatter has sent a letter of support to New Zealand Football chairman Frank van Hattum following the Christchurch earthquake.
David Meates, the chief executive of the Canterbury DHB, said last night had been a quiet night for Christchurch Hospital.
He said there had been 164 people admitted to the hospital as a result of the quake, with injuries ranging from crush injuries, head and neck injuries, spinal injuries and broken bones.
Mr Meates said 30 per cent of GP offices had opened yesterday, with around 60 per cent now open today.
The DHB has dropped the fees for GP visits, and charges for prescriptions, to encourage people to get any medical care they may need.
John Key said police will be in the position today to start releasing the names of those bodies identified. Mr Key said it would only be a small number today, and some families are not comfortable yet with their loved ones' names being released.
Mr Key said there were international protocols that police had to go through before the details of foreign nationals can be released.
Three TelstraClear generators in Christchurch were stolen overnight, said media spokesperson David Courtney.
The generators were powering road side cabinets serving several hundred broadband and landline customers
"These are critical services and could affect those who need to call through for medical reasons," Mr Courtney said.
The cabinets can still operate on batteries, but only last for several hours depending on use.
Mr Courtney said the company were looking to source more generators to power the cabinets.
Several foreign embassies have set up temporary facilities at Auckland International Airport to assist tourists who want to return home, and whose passports and belongings have been left behind in Christchurch hotel rooms.
Urban Search and Rescue (USR) teams have this morning investigated two reports of possible survivors in a building in Gloucester St and the Holy Cross Chapel in Chancery Lane, but after careful searching, including using the search dogs and technical equipment, have found no evidence of life.
USR teams continue to search the central city using a grid system.
Two aftershocks hit Christchurch within three minutes of each other this morning.
A 3.3 magnitude quake struck at 10:28am at a depth of 11km, 20km south-east of Christchurch.
It was followed by a 3.4 magnitude quake at 10:31am, which hit at a depth of 6km, 10km south-east of the city.
There have been 23 aftershocks in Canterbury since midnight.
The language school located in the ill-fated CTV building has released this list of the names of people affected by the earthquake, and what is known of their current status.
The search and rescue team have recovered a body from the CTV site. The body is now wrapped in tarpaulin on a digger.
A large team of Japanese searchers have now entered the site with dogs.
Australia's foreign minister Kevin Rudd has told Sky News that New Zealand's foreign minister Murray McCully has asked for further help from Australia.
He said Australia was also sending counsellors over. Mr Rudd said Australia was not accustomed to earthquakes "so for Australians there it's pretty traumatic."
There will again be restrictions on access to the CBD tonight for public safety reasons amidst fears of further building collapses.
District Commander Superintendent Dave Cliff says the area within the four avenues (Deans, Moorhouse, Fitzgerald and Bealey) will be off-limits.
Police say all members of the public, including the media must be out of the cordoned area by 6.30pm, or they risk arrest.
There are reports a Japanese media contingent were arrested last night after attempting to gain access to a hospital ward to interview patients.
Australia's Channel 9 reports a crane has arrived on the scene at the CTV building. An earth working machine is moving specific pieces after reports that a text message was received from inside the building. Camera and sound equipment are believed to have been sent down sent down into the building.
Operation Shop will also start today. Five teams of two - an engineer and a building officer - will assess buildings providing essential services, such as supermarkets, doctors' surgeries and pharmacies.
This is so people can be reassured that essential services are being provided from safe and secure buildings. People should not re-enter shops until they have been assessed as safe to enter.
While search and rescue continues to be a priority in the central city, the arrival of extra reinforcements in this area means attention can also be focused on residents living in the suburbs.
Operation Suburb will send 40 teams of four, comprising building officials, engineers and welfare officers into the suburbs of Brighton, Dallington, Avonside, Wainoni, Avondale, Parklands, Queenspark, St Martins, Opawa and Lyttelton.
The teams will conduct Level 1 assessments of residents' properties. If real structural damage is suspected then an engineer will conduct a more in-depth Level 2 assessment.
34 tankers are currently delivering water around Christchurch.
Civil Defence advises residents to boil ALL water before consuming it, even when it is from tankers.
A 4.4 magnitude aftershock struck at 9.44am this morning, 10km south of Christchurch at a depth of 6km.
Some on Twitter commented it was the strongest felt since the big 6.3 magnitude tremor on Tuesday.
British people can donate to the New Zealand Red Cross online here.
Alternatively UK Vodafone customers can give £5 by texting "NZQUAKE" to 70801. UK Vodafone will donate an extra £1 for each text.
That rescue effort mentioned just before is reportedly taking place at the Holy Cross chapel in Cathedral Square.
Internet auction site Trade Me has joined the bid to help people displaced by Christchurch's earthquake by opening their website to advertisements for free offers of accommodation.
Over 450 people around New Zealand have so advertised a place in their home for anyone needing help after the earthquake.
This incredible image of Christchurch taken just after the earthquake struck on Tuesday, is doing the rounds on Twitter.
Air New Zealand reports it has scheduled the equivalent of 19 737s worth of extra seats on flights out of Christchurch. Air NZ boss Rob Fyfe says the special $50 airfare on national flights, for Christchurch residents and their immediate family, will be extended through to Sunday.
There are reports an "active rescue" is underway in a CBD building, following the discovery of signs of life.
The underside of humanity is unfortunately coming to the fore in the Christchurch disaster area.
Police say they are already starting to see an increase in domestic violence in Christchurch following the quake.
And some looters have taken advantage of people being absent from their homes. Several burglaries have been reported.
Hurricanes fullback Cory Jane has supported the decision to call off his side's match against the Crusaders which was to be played in Wellington on Saturday.
Jane wrote on Twitter: "I hear @crusadersrugby r not playing this week & are staying wif family & 2 help #CHCH #eqnz. Great move,it's only a game & family comes 1st."
Jane is also auctioning off a signed Hurricanes' jersey and a pair of purple boots with proceeds going to the Christchurch earthquake appeal. Currently the leading bid is $2,060. The auction ends next Wednesday.
The Prime Minister will speak with the chief executives of 40 of some of the largest companies in the country this afternoon to start work on a package of assistance for employers and workers in Christchurch.
Mr Key said he would speak by teleconference to 40 CEOs, many of whom had branches in Christchurch, to find out what was required and what help they themselves could offer.
He expected any package to differ from that offered last time, when it was mainly smaller businesses which were affected. The government provided wage subsidies for workers of those businesses.
The PM expects to be able to announce steps by Monday.
According to GeoNet there were 23 aftershocks between 9.30pm and 6am ranging from magnitude 2.9 to 4.1.
TV3 reports that power has now been restored to 60 per cent of Christchurch.
The Crusaders have decided not to travel to Wellington for this weekend's Super 15 rugby game against the Hurricanes. The two teams will share the points.
The level of international help is tremendous - there are a total of about 750 overseas Urban Rescue experts now in Christchurch. These include teams from Australia, Japan, Singapore and the US.
Prime Minister John Key has not ruled out imposing an Earthquake Levy similar to the flood levy brought in Queensland after the recent floods.
"The difference with Australia and New Zealand is effectively we already have a levy and that is EQC.
"My preference would be not to do it but I'm not ruling it out."
A 10,000-strong student volunteer army has been gathered via social networking site Facebook to help those suffering in the wake of Tuesday's devastating earthquake in Christchurch.
"We are working closely with Civil Defence in this operation. At this very early stage we are focusing on helping everyday people in their homes in low risk areas with non-life threatening situations," student organiser Sam Johnson says.
Volunteers should arrive at the UCSA car park on Ilam Road between 9am and 10am today and bring shovels, wheelbarrows, gloves, raincoats, sunblock and drink bottles.
Rail links to Christchurch to the earthquake zone have been largely restored.
KiwiRail says it has reopened its line between Dunedin and Christchurch, and it expected to complete repairs near Rangiora overnight for trains to start moving south from Picton early today. But the line to the Port of Lyttelton remains closed.
Canterbury Civil Defence group controller Ken Taylor said Foodstuffs had confirmed yesterday that all of its Christchurch stores were open, sufficiently stocked, and the company was working to overcome logistical issues.
Progressive Enterprises also had a number of its stores open and the remainder would open to the public when possible.
Fuel was being transported to Christchurch through the port at Timaru, he says.
"The public should have confidence that sufficient supplies are reaching Christchurch," Mr Taylor says.
So far, 431 people had gone through the Emergency Department and 164 patients had been admitted as "seriously injured", Civil Defence Minister John Carter says.
Rescuers were focusing their attention on four main buildings where they thought there might be survivors, he said.
About 20 people are thought to remain in the pancaked PGC building.
Overnight the Pope and the Dalai Lama extended their sympathy to the quake victims, joining other world leaders such as Queen Elizabeth II and Barack Obama offering their condolences.
Police spokeswoman Sarah Kennett says overnight 190 police officers enforced a central city curfew and it was quiet apart from rescue efforts.
Civil Defence Minster John Carter says search and rescue work has now resumed at the CTV building.
Police earlier issued a release saying that damage to the building meant the likelihood of any survivors was low.
Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker says residents should treat all water as contaminated and boil it before use.
Civil Defence Minister John Carter says a figure of 300 missing after the Christchurch earthquake is "speculation".
He says police have taken control of the streams of information on those not accounted for, but the some of the information has been incorrect.
"Police are now acting to ensure that the lists are accurate and that we will have a definitive list of who's missing."
Mr Carter says the police will decide when victims of the earthquake would be officially named.
American and British search and rescue teams will arrive tonight, he says.
Civil Defence Minister John Carter tells media in Wellington search and rescue teams are now being deployed across the city.
Teams of 70 personnel are now going to areas where there could be smaller numbers of dead or injured, he says.
Mr Carter says there are 71 people confirmed dead in morgues, but further bodies.
Since the earthquake 431 patients have gone through the emergency departments, he says.
Mr Carter says reports show water and wastewater are "significant issues for us" and 80 per cent of the city is without reticulated water.
Power has been restored to 60 per cent of the city with the eastern areas worst affected by cuts.
Forty teams of building inspectors, EQC staff and welfare personnel are beginning to check the safety of buildings, Mr Carter says.
He says the Lyttelton tunnel remains closed to non-emergency traffic but main roads out of the city and the rail link between Picton and Christchurch are now open.
View Christchurch earthquake: Map of the destruction in a larger map
- NZHERALD STAFF, AGENCIES, NEWSTALK ZB