Prince William arrives in quake-hit Christchurch

17th March 2011, Comments 0 comments

Prince William arrived in earthquake-devastated Christchurch on Thursday, the first stop on a tour of disaster-stricken areas of New Zealand and Australia.

The Prince, who is travelling without his bride-to-be Kate Middleton, was met by a crowd of about 100 when he touched down in New Zealand's second largest city about 12:20pm (2320 GMT Wednesday).

He immediately departed for a tour of Christchurch's "red zone", the area worst-hit in last month's 6.3-magnitude quake, which killed an estimated 180 people and reduced swathes of the city to rubble.

Later Thursday, the 28-year-old will visit Greymouth, on the South Island's rugged West Coast, where 29 miners died late last year when a gas explosion tore through the Pike River colliery.

He will represent Queen Elizabeth II at a national memorial for earthquake victims in Christchurch on Friday before departing for Australia on Saturday morning.

While there, he will visit areas of Queensland and Victoria damaged in recent floods and cyclones.

He is travelling without Middleton, whom he will marry on April 29, because his visit is classed as an official royal tour.

St James' Palace has said the trip was a way for the royals "to show their solidarity with the people of New Zealand and Australia".

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

© 2011 AFP

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