Prince William Surveys Christchurch Earthquake Damage

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Prince William surveyed the damage in earthquake-stricken Christchurch, New Zealand earlier today, expressing his shock and gratitude along the way.

"It's just so sad," said the prince as he confronted teetering buildings in the city center and collapsed shops and office blocks, reports AFP.

"The scale of it is unbelievable. It's really brought it home for me," he added.

On February 22, a 6.3-magnitude earthquake killed about 180 people and flattened much of the city.

The prince was guided into Christchurch's "red zone," an area still closed to the public because of danger from damaged buildings. He also toured civil defense headquarters where emergency crews have been working around the clock in an effort to help the city recover.

The 28-year-old seems to have refrained from any emotional reserve typically associated with royals as he offered heartfelt thanks to rescue workers and words of comfort to locals.

"Have you been picking people out of the rubble?" Prince William asked one exhausted crew member, while he thanked other workers for the "wonderful work you are all doing."

Prince William is on a five-day tour of disaster-hit areas of New Zealand and Australia. He is traveling without his bride-to-be Kate Middleton, because the visit is classed as an official royal tour.

"I'm not what you would call a royalist but I'm just glad that someone in his shoes decided to come down here," Christchurch resident James Sykes tells AFP. "It shows solidarity with the people."

New Zealand and Australia are both former British colonies and members of the Commonwealth, making Queen Elizabeth II the official head of state.

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