US Congressional delegates believed safe after Christchurch quake

A spokesman for the United States Embassy in Wellington said, as far as he knew, all US delegates visiting Christchurch for the two-day United States-New Zealand Partnership Forum were safe following this afternoon's devastating earthquake.

The forum, which brought together 200 officials from the US and New Zealand at the AMI Stadium, was due to finish today.

A group of nine US congressmen had left the city before the earthquake struck, and were visiting Parliament this afternoon.

Foreign Minister Murray McCully was also in Parliament this afternoon.

US Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell stayed in Christchurch, and was reported by Radio New Zealand to be safe.

With communications difficult, US Ambassador David Huebner sent out a Twitter message saying if delegates had been separated from their group they should head for the US Antarctic Centre in Christchurch or call the US Consulate.

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