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Peter Jackson, 'The Hobbit' Crew Offers Assistance in New Zealand Earthquake

Peter Jackson
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State of emergency declared as Christchurch digs out from second major temblor in five months.

SYDNEY -- As rescue and recovery moved into a second night in New Zealand following Tuesday's devastating earthquake in Christchurch, Peter Jackson and The Hobbit production have offered any practical assistance they can to their fellow New Zealanders and others affected by the tragedy, while others in the industry are starting to galvanise for fundraising efforts.

In a statement to The Hollywood Reporter Jackson said that “everyone involved in the production of The Hobbit is shocked and saddened by the earthquake and it's devastating aftermath. 

He said that several of the films actors and crew come from  Christchurch and “we are doing all we can to support them.”

In addition he said the production has been in contact with the NZ Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management,” to offer practical assistance and stands ready to help in any way we can.”

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Christchurch and all those affected by this terrible tragedy.' he said.

The Ministry Wednesday declared New Zealand to be in a national state of emergency as local rescue teams were joined by teams from Australia, the U.S., Japan and Canada amongst others, searching for survivors  beneath the rubble of Christchurch. Australia has sent its largest ever contingent of peace time emergency personnel to assist in rescue and recovery efforts.

The official death toll has risen to 75, with at least 300 listed as missing and 1350 unaccounted for.

In one instance local media reported that there could be 100 people who have not survived in the collapse of the CTV building, which housed the local TV station Canterbury Television. That six-story building concertined into one story, and after the building caught fire Wednesday  rescuers were told to abandon the site as there was no hope of finding survivors.

"This particular site, CTV site, had a number of overseas students in it and my heart goes out to those families that are away knowing that some of their children, family have probably been killed in this incident,'' police operations commander Dave Lawry said of the Canterbury TV building.

"The situation is that we don't believe this site is now survivable,'' he added.

At least 24 people were rescued from the site before it was abandoned.

At the same time many New Zealanders and foreigners were preparing to be evacuated Wednesday from Christchurch to other New Zealand cities including Wellington where The Hobbit and Jackson’s film businesses are headquartered.

At least 1000 people were displaced in Christchurch on the first night after the magnitude 6.3 earthquake, water and power are now unavailable to up to 60% of the city and all hospitals in and around the Canterbury region are reportedly full.

A spokeswoman at Weta Workshop told The Hollywood Reporter Wednesday that its crew are offering support to those affected by donations to the Earthquake Relief Fund and clothing for those evacuated into Wellington tonight. 

“Of course all affected in Canterbury are in our thoughts and we wish we could do more," she said.

Also Wednesday Sydney-based New Zealand production outfit, the Handsomity Institute, launched a new episode of their cult animation hit Beached Az on YouTube, calling for donations to the NZ Red Cross.

British comedian Stephen Fry also tweeted a link to the Red Cross, so followers can donate to relief efforts, but that might have had the opposite effect. The NZ Red Cross website crashed twice Wednesday under the demand of people wanting to make donations.

Celebrities elsewhere have also taken to twitter to offer messages of support.

In a post Joel Madden writes, "Sending prayers out to everyone in Christchurch. Beautiful place and great people. Thoughts & prayers with you guys in NZ. God bless!" while singer Josh Groban said, "Sending my love to my friends in New Zealand...quite the frightening quake they've experienced."

Justin Bieber tweeted Tuesday, "My prayers go out tonight to the people of New Zealand. God bless," while guitarist Slash  added, "Our thoughts & prayers go out to everybody in Christchurch."

Agency Film New Zealand also extended it sympathies to those in the region.

"The agency joins all New Zealanders and others around the world in extending its heartfelt sympathies to those affected by yesterday’s tragic earthquake in Christchurch," CEO Gisella Carr said in a statement.

She said it is devastating to see the terrible loss of life and the destruction of much of the heart of the South Island’s biggest city.

“In response to enquiries, we are not aware of any international film or television productions occurring within New Zealand that have been affected by the earthquake as they are all occurring away from the Canterbury region impacted by the disaster.”

“Our thoughts are with those who have lost loved ones, and for Cantabrians whose lives have been reshaped in such a shocking way by yesterday’s quake.”