Prime Minister John Key today launched the Christchurch Earthquake Appeal, a global fundraiser for the recovery effort in the city and the Canterbury region.

"It's vital we reach as many people throughout the world as possible who want to help," he said.

"This isn't just New Zealand's tragedy - the February 22 earthquake affected countless people internationally."

He said the new appeal would give people another means of donating to the recovery effort.

Mr Key said the appeal was designed to complement those already established, such as the funds organised by the Red Cross and the Salvation Army.

"It's my intention that the Government will work alongside these organisations to make sure the funds are used in the best possible way.

Mr Key said New Zealand government departments at home and around the world would be throwing their weight behind the appeal.

"I am also pleased to announce that the proceeds raised for the earthquake recovery from Saturday's special Lotto draw will go directly to the Appeal," said Mr Key.

Mr Key said he was encouraging New Zealanders to give generously to Christchurch.

"Every little bit helps - every donation, no matter how small, will be welcomed."

Donations can be made at

Search teams still sifting through rubble

Meanwhile, search and rescue teams continue the "slow and painstaking process" of sifting through the city's rubble for more than 200 missing people.

The death toll from Tuesday's earthquake stands at 147.

Urban Search and Rescue reports it has made "good progress" at the three main sites - the CTV building, the PGC building and the Christchurch Cathedral in the search for the missing

At the CTV building, the most advanced of each of the sites, New Zealand, Chinese and Japanese teams are working and are now down to an "extremely thorough and delicate operation".

British USAR teams are focused on the PGC building where they are "progressing well", but are involved in "a very heavy and complex operation". An access platform has been established to allow for the use of heavy machinery at the site.

At the Christchurch Cathedral, where around 20 people are believed to have been buried, USAR teams have inserted large steel tubes into some parts of the cathedral and are crawling through these tubes, pushing small hand-guided diggers in front of them to burrow in. From there, they are creating safe havens for themselves as they work outwards from these for further searching.

Outside the cathedral, steelwork is being used to stabilise the front section of the building where the New Zealand USAR team is working.

Engineers are still working on an engineering solution to stabilise the Hotel Grand Chancellor, while USAR teams have now began to search neighbouring buildings for missing people

The Fire Service reports there have been five fires in the city in the last 24-hours.

Three of these were related to power being reinstated to homes and could have been prevented, the fire service said.

Three fire crews are at the three main sites in case of fire while 11 crews are moving through the greater city area to assess public
needs and deal with issues arising. Around 70 percent of the high priority areas, in particular the eastern suburbs, have now been covered.

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