Updated: 22/02/12 : 07:23:59
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World :: New Zealand Remembers Quake Victims

Memorial services have been held across New Zealand to remember those who died in the Christchurch earthquake one year ago.

A total of 185 people were killed in the powerful 6.3 magnitude quake which hit the country's second largest city at lunchtime today (Wednesday).

New Zealanders paused for two minutes' silence at 12.51pm marking the moment the earthquake hit causing buildings to crash down on shoppers, office workers and tourists.

About 60,000 people gathered for a solemn memorial at Christchurch's Hagley Park, where families of the victims locked arms and bowed their heads.

Some wept while others closed their eyes in prayer, with only the sound of a crying baby breaking the silence.

At the service, governor-general Jerry Mateparae read a message of condolence from Britain's Prince Charles and a video address from US secretary of state Hillary Clinton, who visited the city just before the disaster, was played.

"Even those of us who were far away on that terrible day share your grief and we know it's been a struggle," she said.
"But through that struggle we've seen the strength and perseverance of the people of Christchurch."

Earlier, Prime Minister John Key told a memorial service for victims' families that the earthquake was "one of our darkest days".

Key said it "wreaked havoc on an unimaginable scale", changing Christchurch forever.

Key also acknowledged frustration among Christchurch residents at delays to a $30bn (E20bn) rebuilding programme amid ongoing aftershocks, including major tremors in June and December which caused further damage.