CHRISTCHURCH -- New Zealanders nationwide paid tribute to the victims of the Christchurch earthquake with two minutes' silence marking the moment the disaster struck last week.
Cathedral bells tolled around New Zealand in remembrance of those who died in the earthquake.
A shallow 6.3 magnitude quake centered at the port town of Lyttelton struck at 12.51 pm last Tuesday, killing at least 154 people, with police expected the final toll to reach "around 240".
TWO MINUTES SILENCE
New Zealand Prime Minister John Key, his wife Bronagh, Opposition Labor Party leader Phil Goff, Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker were in central Christchurch to observe the silence at the heart of the shattered city.
For 10 minutes after the silence, the Wellington Cathedral of St Paul near Parliament also rang its bells in a half-muffled peal to acknowledge those who lost their lives.
A service on the steps of Parliament building at 12.30 p.m. was attended by Governor-General Anand Satyanand and Lady Satyanand, Deputy Prime Minister Bill English, church and faith representatives, Members of Parliament (MPs) and overseas diplomats.
Catholic Cathedrals in Auckland, Dunedin and other cities also toll their bells.
The silence was also observed in Wellington's Civic Square. The public gathered at the square to observe the silence in support of the people of Christchurch.
A service at the same time was being held in Auckland's Anglican Cathedral and attended by leaders of city churches, Mayor Len Brown and local MPs.
DEATH TOLL AT 154
Police Superintendent Dave Cliff told a press briefing on Tuesday that death toll remained at 154, after more bodies were found overnight. Three of the recovered bodies had been found in the PGC building.
But Cliff said the number of dead was expected to rise. He said a figure of around 240 was "solidifying" but could still change.
Cliff warned that it was not going to be possible in all cases for the bodies of dead - some of which had received horrific injuries - to be returned to families.
Identifying victims was "really emotionally charged and draining work", he said, and the process took time.
Cliff reiterated that the process was "absolutely robust" and was the same as used overseas.
Russell Wood from the Fire Service told the conference he had toured the Pyne Gould Corporation building Monday night and that Urban Search and Rescue (Usar) workers at the site believed they would find more victims.
A key wall in the Christchurch Cathedral, where up to 22 bodies still lay, would be shored up Tuesday to allow better access for the Usar teams, he said.
Wood said recovery efforts at the CTV building remained a daylight operation only.
New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully said on Tuesday that hundreds of rescue workers and millions of dollars in overseas aid had poured into Christchurch in the past week.
More than 900 international personnel from overseas were now working with New Zealand search and rescue teams in Christchurch, McCully said.