U.S. Sends Rescue Team to Help in New Zealand Earthquake

WASHINGTON -- The State Department says a U.S. rescue team is on its way to New Zealand to help with search and rescue in the aftermath of a devastating earthquake.

Spokesman P.J. Crowley says Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton phoned New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully to express her sorrow over the earthquake, which toppled buildings in Christchurch and killed dozens of people. Crowley said in a tweet Tuesday that a U.S. search-and-rescue team was en route.

A U.S. delegation of 43 government, business and community leaders was in Christchurch on Tuesday for a U.S.-New Zealand Partnership Forum meeting. All were thought to be safe. Nine U.S. congressmen attending the meeting had left the city before the quake struck and also were believed to be safe.