The Christchurch earthquake death toll already ranks among the highest in New Zealand disaster history.

Here is a selection of some of New Zealand's worst disasters:

1979 Mount Erebus air crash - 257 dead
On 28 November, 1979, an Air New Zealand DC-10 airliner, on a sightseeing flight to Antarctica, crashed into Mount Erebus. All 257 passengers and crew were killed in New Zealand's worst air disaster.

1931 Napier Earthquake - 256 dead
On February 3, 1931, an earthquake measuring 7.8 rocked Hawkes Bay killing 256 people. The majority of buildings in the centre of Napier and Hastings were levelled.

1863 HMS Orpheus shipwreck - 189 dead
On February 7, 1863, HMS Orpheus, a the Royal Navy steam corvette carrying British troops, ran around at the entrance to Auckland's Manukau Harbour. Of the 259 men on board, 189 died. It is the worst maritime disaster in New Zealand waters.

1953 Tangiwai railway accident - 151 dead
On Christmas Eve 1953, a North Island main trunk express plunged off the Tangiwai bridge into the Whangaehu River. The bridge had been fatally weakened by a lahar from Mount Ruapehu's crater lake. Of the 285 people on board, 151 were killed. This is New Zealand's worst rail disaster.

2011 Christchurch earthquake - 65 dead
Today's 6.3 earthquake at 12.51pm in Christchurch resulted in 65 deaths, confirmed by Prime Minister John Key, with the death toll expected to rise.

1896 Brunner Mine disaster - 65 dead
On 26 March, 1896, an explosion at Brunner, West Coast, killed 65 coal miners in New Zealand's worst mining disaster.

1968 Wahine shipwreck - 51 dead
On April 10, 1968, the Wahine, carrying 610 passengers and 123 crew sailed into one of the worst storms ever recorded in New Zealand. After leaving Lyttleton the ship struck Barrett Reef at the entrance to Wellington Harbour in atrocious conditions and sank. Of the 734 people on board 51 died.

1947 Ballantyne's fire - 41 dead
On 18 November, 1947, 41 people were killed in New Zealand's deadliest fire, in the Ballantyne's Department Store in Christchurch.

2010 Pike River mine accident - 29 dead.
Two explosions on 19 and 24 November last year resulted in the deaths of 29 coalminers at the Pike River mine on the West Coast. It was this country's worst mining disaster since 1914.

1966 Kaitawa shipwreck - 29 dead
On 23 May, 1966, the collier Kaitawa was lost near Cape Reinga. All 29 aboard perished.

1963 Kaimai air crash - 23 dead
On July 3, 1963, a DC-3 airliner crashed in the Kaimai Range, Bay of Plenty. All 23 passengers and crew were killed in what remains the worst air crash within New Zealand.

1950 Ranui shipwreck- 22 dead
On December 28, 1950, Mt Maunganui recorded its worst sea disaster. Ranui, a new 45ft kauri launch, was dashed to pieces on the rocks at the entrance to Tauranga Harbour as it returned from its maiden voyage.

1967 Strongman Mine explosion - 19 dead
Nineteen died on January 19, 1967, near Greymouth.

1959 Holmglen shipwreck - 15 dead
On November 24, 1959, the coaster Holmglen foundered north of Oamaru. All 15 crew were lost.

1963 Whangarei bus crash - 15 dead
Fifteen people were killed in what is New Zealand's worst bus accident. A party was returning from Waitangi Day celebrations when, shortly after lunch on February 7, the bus failed to take a bend as it descended Pilbrow Hill, in the Brynderwyn Hills, near Whangarei.

1995 Cave Creek disaster - 14 dead
On 28 April, 1995, a Department of Conservation viewing platform built over a cliff at Cave Creek in the West Coast's Paparoa National Park collapsed, killing 14 people.

1989 Upper Dart Valley air crash (Otago) - 10 dead
On August 8, 1989, 10 people died from an aircraft accident. One crew member and nine passengers were killed when the aircraft struck the mountain slope.

2010 Fox Glacier air crash - nine dead
On September 4 last year, nine people died when a skydiving plane crashed after taking off from Fox Glacier airfield on the West Coast.

1993 Franz Josef Glacier air crash - nine dead
On October 25, 1993, nine people died when a sightseeing plane crashed into Franz Josef Glacier on the West Coast.

2008 Elim canyoning tragedy - seven dead
On Tuesday April 15, 2008, six students and one teacher from Elim Christian College died while canyoning at the Sir Edmund Hillary Outdoor Pursuits Centre.