By Ian Dunt
The UK has offered any assistance required to New Zealand, after a devastating earthquake killed at least 65 people in Christchurch.
The 6.3 magnitude quake hit at lunchtime, when the city was at its busiest, and was shallow enough to cause severe devastation.
"I was shocked and saddened to hear of the devastating earthquake that struck Christchurch earlier today killing so many people," William Hague said.
"The ties that bind the UK with New Zealand are very close and my thoughts are with the friends and families of all those who have lost their lives and been affected by the earthquake."
The foreign secretary continued: "Many people in the UK with links to New Zealand will be watching anxiously as the situation develops.
"Our high commissioner in New Zealand is on her way to Christchurch and we stand ready to provide any assistance that we can to the authorities and to any British Nationals who have been caught up in the earthquake."
A UK search and rescue team is being dispatched to the country, the prime minister added.
At least 200 people are believed to be trapped under the rubble.
Prime minister John Key said: "We may be witnessing New Zealand's darkest day.
"It is just a scene of utter devastation. We have to work as fast as we can to get people out of environments where they are trapped.
"This is a community that is absolutely in agony. We just need this community, as it has done before and as it will do again, to come together, to check and support one another," he added.