Quake Wreaks Havoc on New Zealand's 'Darkest Day'

The frantic recovery effort continues in Christchurch, New Zealand, in the wake of 6.3 magnitude earthquake that shook the city at midday on Tuesday. After a cold and rainy night, cries of help continue to emanate from the rubble in the city's central business district. 

At least 65 people have been reported dead so far, with hundreds more missing. Eighty percent of Christchurch is without water; hospitals have been evacuated, telephone communications are disrupted and thousands have sought refuge in emergency shelters and parks. The city has reportedly run out of ambulances. Prime Minister John Key has called it "New Zealand's darkest day."

This quake, the second to hit Christchurch since a 7.3-magnitude quake in September, promises to be far more deadly: the September quake occurred at night,  but Tuesday's quake hit when many were at work, in school or on the roadways, which are now largely shut down.

As news professionals scramble to report the disaster, it's clear that some of the innovations on earthquake coverage evident in Haiti and Chile in 2010 are becoming standard practice. The New Zealand news and information website Stuff has a comprehensive crowd-sourcing platform in place to report casualties, infrastructure damage and medical information. It's powered by Ushahidi, the transnational non-profit tech company that provides open-source software for interactive mapping, used to great effect in the days after the Haiti quake.

To assist New Zealanders and people worldwide to locate loved ones who might be caught up in the Christchurch quake, Google has customized its person-finder, which can be embedded in blogs, Facebook pages or news sites.  Here's what it looks like on the Stuff site

Dart Australasia offers an array of resources to those dispatched to cover the quake: From the archives, Dart Executive Director Bruce Shapiro considers the impact of "Reckoning with Aftershocks."  "Working with Victims and Survivors" is a compilation of best practices from journalists, researchers and mental health experts in the Asia Pacific region. Finally, Trina McLellan interviews photographer Patrick Hamilton on his experiences in disaster zones: "Earthquake Advice from One Who Was There."