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New Zealand earthquake: Passport rules waived for evacuation flights from Christchurch

Los Angeles Times Daily Travel & Deal blogger

New Zealand is temporarily allowing certain travelers in Christchurch who lost or left behind their passports and photo IDs amid the chaos of the deadly 6.3-magnitude earthquake to fly out without that documentation, according to a U.S. State Department alert.

“At this time, no passport or photo identification is required for the New Zealand Government-sponsored flights,” the alert posted Tuesday on the agency’s website said.

The alert added: “Commercial flights are operating from Christchurch to Auckland and Wellington. U.S. Consular personnel from the U.S. Consulate General in Auckland and the U.S. Embassy in Wellington will assist U.S. citizens arriving in Auckland and Wellington with documentation of citizenship, onward travel, and emergency needs.”

So far, about 1,000 people have been evacuated to Wellington and Auckland on the country’s North Island, the New Zealand government said.

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The quake’s official death toll has risen to at least 75, but hundreds remain missing. In a statement issued Wednesday, Tourism New Zealand, which is posting useful information for travelers, said a state of emergency in heavily damaged Christchurch is expected to last at least seven days. The city center is shut off to visitors as workers search for survivors and bodies amid the rubble.

Christchurch International Airport opened Wednesday to both domestic and international flights. However, on its website, the airport advised travelers to check with their airline before going to the airport. Media reports say that many people have camped out at the airport in hopes of leaving the quake-stricken city. Airport flight schedules through Friday list a variety of carriers.

Air New Zealand, which has added extra flights, is offering one-way fares of 50 New Zealand dollars (about $38) plus tax for domestic flights in and out of Christchurch through Friday. The airline also is offering reduced “compassionate” fares for certain  family members flying in or out of the area.


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