New Zealand Prime Minister, John Key
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New Zealand PM John Key praises rescue workers

An urgent rescue mission is underway in the New Zealand city of Christchurch after a powerful earthquake hit the region.

The official death toll is 38 but the authorities are warning the final figure could be "considerably higher" as dozens are still trapped under rubble.

At a news conference Prime Minster John Key praised the efforts of search and rescue services and said all New Zealanders had been affected by the devastation.

Go to next video: Inside N Zealand's quake-hit cathedral