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Two Irish citizens have died in the Christchurch earthquake, says Ireland's Department of Foreign Affairs.

A spokeswoman said yesterday it had "serious concerns" about two other citizens and concerns about a further 10.

One of the dead, Owen McKenna from County Monaghan, had been living in New Zealand for about six years, The Irish Independent reported.

Father-of two Mr McKenna was believed to be aged in his 40s and worked as a nurse at the hospital. He moved to New Zealand after marrying a Kiwi woman.

Fabian Murphy, an old school friend from St McCartan's College in Monaghan, last met Mr McKenna when he returned home for a short visit in July 2009.

"He was as funny as ever. I have known him since we were four-years-old," Mr Murphy said. "He was one of the funniest people ever, even in 2009, the night's craic we had was just like old times.

"We'll really miss him."

The Irish Independent reported the hospital where Mr McKenna worked contacted his family to say he had not arrived for work after the quake struck.

Mr McKenna's car was crushed by falling debris.