Flights grounded after quake

Flights in New Zealand are not taking off in the wake of today's 6.3 magnitude earthquake in Christchurch.

Auckland Airport spokesman Richard Llewellyn said the airways system around the country was closed shortly after the earthquake.

"For the moment, planes are landing but no planes are departing,'' he told NZPA.

"The national air traffic control centre is in Christchurch, and they are checking to make sure it is all okay, and until then the airways system has been closed.''

Christchurch Central MP Brendon Burns was waiting at Wellington Airport, hoping for a flight to anywhere in the South Island when the announcement came that all New Zealand flights have been cancelled until further notice.

This is because air traffic control for the country is run through Christchurch Airport.

"I was on my way to Parliament when the news came and I turned right around and came back to the airport. I'm just distraught, we have had shakes for six months now but this is a whole new dimension.''

Mr Burns said the quake was re-writing the city's landscape and reports that the Cathedral and other heritage buildings were coming down were terrible.

"But it's not about the buildings now, it's about those hurt and injured. I don't think we can contemplate the scale.''
Waimakariri MP Clayton Cosgrove was also trying to get down to his Christchurch community.

Mr Cosgrove said it was "difficult to be stuck in this bloody place (Wellington Airport) while your family and friends are in strife.

"The indication is that it is very grim. It's very sad because people were just starting to get a little bit of confidence. We hope and pray there are no casualties,'' he told NZPA.

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