Twin town Christchurch's condolences for quake victims

Image caption,
Residents said this earthquake felt much more powerful than last September's

A council in Dorset is to set up four books of condolence for the earthquake victims of its twin city in New Zealand.

At least 65 people died after a 6.3-magnitude tremor hit Christchurch on Monday.

At least 200 people were believed to be trapped under rubble.

Mayor of Christchurch in Dorset, Councillor Nick Geary, offered "sincere and heartfelt condolences" in a message he sent to his counterpart.

Prayer call

It read: "Our sincere and heartfelt condolences to the families of those who have lost their lives.

"Our hopes and prayers are with you all at this most shocking time. We wish all those injured a speedy recovery, and hope that more loss of life can be minimised."

Mr Geary told BBC News on Tuesday: "Our thoughts are very much with [Christchurch] .

"We just wish it every success in getting the people out from underneath the rubble alive.

"We are just heartbroken here - our twin city in devastation. All we can do is pray."

The country's deadliest natural disaster in 80 years struck at 1251 (2351 GMT on Monday), 10km (6.2 miles) south-east of the city.

The books of condolence, along with collections, will be available at the Civic Offices in Bridge Street, the Information Centre in the High Street, Highcliffe Castle and The Priory Church.

The town has been officially twinned with the city since 21 October 1975.

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