A timeline of events following this morning's 7.1 magnitude earthquake in Canterbury.
1.32pm Seismologists are warning Canterbury residents a big aftershock is probably still on the way.
1.30pm Christchurch Airport reopens
12.30pm MetService issues a severe weather warning for the Canterbury region, warning of severe rain and gales. Temperatures expected to drop to 2 degrees overnight.
12.23pm Christchurch Police confirm they have closed the city centre until tomorrow.
12:18pm Magnitude 4.0 at a depth of 12km, 10km east of Darfield.
12pm Prime Minister John Key says he is rushing to Canterbury to "show solidarity" with locals rocked by a major earthquake.
11.52am Magnitude 3.9 aftershock hits at a depth of 5km, 20km west of Christchurch
11:12am Magnitude 5.3 aftershock strikes at a depth of 12 km, 10 km east of Darfield
11.09am Damage is widespread in the historic harbour town of Lyttelton. The Holy Trinity church built in the 1800s has suffered extensive cracking and the façade of the nearby Empire Hotel has crumbled. The Harbourlight theatre is also damaged. The town remained closed for business this morning and the Saturday market farmers market has been cancelled. However, power has been restored.
10.53am Ambulances are flat out across Christchurch city attending to hundreds of personal medical alarms activated during the quake.
10.35am Christchurch airport confirmed that it will remain closed until at least 1pm.
10:17am Magnitude 4.4 quake strikes at a depth of 5 km, 30 km south-west of Christchurch
10.11am Wainoni Pak n Save has opened despite power outages and its aisles are crammed with shoppers looking for emergency supplies in the dark. Shoppers are loading up with tinned food and drinks.
10am Christchurch declares a state of local emergency
9.53am Christchurch Hospital calls for back-up from all off-duty emergency department staff who are able to travel into work safely.
9.35am Civil Defence is warning of the risk of water shortages, advises people living on the flat in Christchurch to conserve water and boil all drinking water. Residents in New Brighton have been using buckets to get water for flushing toilets.The central city has been closed to traffic as Civil Defence tries to keep sightseers away from the centre.
9.30am Residents in Christchurch have rushed to petrol stations to queue for petrol following the earthquake. Lines at some stations are tens of cars long, and the wait is up to 45 minutes long. There have been delays in paying for petrol because Eftpos was down.
9.15am Reports of looters confirmed by Christchurch police
8.59am Civil defence minister John Carter said it was likely a state of civil emergency would be declared soon.
8.28am Civil Defence said about 5 per cent of buildings in central Christchurch were damaged but there had been no reports of people trapped.
8.25am Cellphone towers in Christchurch were currently operating on battery power but this was expected to fail by 9.30am.
8.17am Confirmation that two people have been seriously injured in the quake.
8:15am Magnitude 4.7 aftershock strikes at a depth of 9 km, 20 km west of Christchurch
8am Christchurch Airport remains closed until at least 10am.
7:56am Magnitude 5.2 aftershock strikes at a depth of 7 km, 20 km west of Christchurch
7:52am Magnitude: 4.0 at a depth of 5 km which struck within 5 km of Darfield
7.46am First reports of looting in the central city
7:13am Magnitude 4.6 aftershock strikes at a depth of 9 km, 20 km north-west of Little River
7:07am Magnitude 4.7 aftershock strikes at a depth of 25 km, 30 km west of Christchurch
6.50am Christchurch's Avonside Drive has been seriously damaged. The street has been ripped apart and there have been reports of one house lifted off its foundation. It's garage has also collapsed.
6:33am Magnitude 4.3 quake strikes at a depth of 5 km, 30 km south of Christchurch
6:23am Magnitude 4.3 aftershock strikes at a depth of 5 km, 10 km south of Darfield
6.11am Stuff reader Sheean Murray reports that building's throughout central Christchurch looked "partially if not fully collapsed". "Many people are fearing there could be a bigger quake to follow."
6:04am Magnitude 3.9 aftershock hits at a depth of 60 km, 10 km south of Christchurch
6:01am Magnitude: 4.6 quake hits at a depth of 11 km, 30 km west of Christchurch
5:55am Magnitude 4.6 aftershock hits at a depth of 5 km, 30 km west of Christchurch
5:46am Magnitude 4.3 aftershock at a depth of 20 km, 30 km west of Christchurch
5:26am Magnitude 4.9 aftershock at a dept of 5 km, 30 km west of Christchurch. Timaru District Council emergency management officer Lamorna Cooper says there have been no issues raised about the hydro system following the earthquake, and post earthquake teams will be checking the dams.
5:26am Magnitude: 4.8 aftershock at a depth of 5 km, 30 km west of Christchurch
5:06am Magnitude: 4.8 aftershock at a depth of 15 km, 30 km west of Belfast
4:56am First large aftershock strikes - magnitude 5.3 quake strikes at a depth of 8 km, 30km west of Christchurch.
4.38am Initial reports of quake begin to filter through to Twitter website.
4:36am: Magnitude 7.1 quake hits the South Island. The epicentre was 40 km west of Christchurch city, and the depth of the quake was at 10 km. The epicentre is close to the town of Darfield. Reports of the quake being felt from as far away as Dunedin and Palmerston North.