By the latest count, some 75 people have perished. Roughly two hundred or so are still missing.
I understand that there are quite a few members of the NZ chess community who are based out of Chrischurch or around the surrounding areas, among them being the affable FM Steven Lukey. Yesterday I saw that he posted a message on Australia's chess bulletin board, Chess Chat. I'm glad he's alright. Still, no news has been heard of other chessers in the area. But I'm hoping, as I'm sure we all are, that they escaped.
For many Australian chess players, of course, Christchurch is actually an important stop en route to and from New Zealand tournaments. I've been there twice myself for Queenstown. While very small compared to many other cities, Christchurch is stunningly beautiful.
I also remember well the giant outdoor chess set just outside the famous cathedral that now stands half destroyed. I can only imagine what it must have been like for the regular chess folks when the temblor struck.
If you want to help, please contact the usual charities.