A large number of people have been pulled alive from collapsed buildings as rescuers have continued to work throughout the night under floodlights.
There are two buildings within the city which suffered major collapse while there were significant numbers of people inside. These are the PGG building on Cambridge Terrace and the CTV building on the corner of Madras and Cashel Streets.
Superintendent Russell Gibson said that since 1pm yesterday 22 people, including two with serious injuries, have been rescued from the PGG building. A further 22 people are believed to be still trapped. There is communication with at least three of these people and it is understood they are not hurt.
Eight people have also been rescued from the CTV building. It is thought a large number are still unaccounted for and work is ongoing to match up reports of missing people with specific locations and buildings.
Police are also aware of there being a number of deceased people in both buildings.
The focus of Police and Urban Search and Rescue at this stage is the rescue of those still trapped, rather than the recovery of the dead.
Supt Gibson said: "It is difficult to speculate on the total death toll as it is such a rapidly evolving situation. We know it will be significant and we know there are a lot of people going through the nightmare ordeal of waiting for news of their loved ones. All of the agencies involved in this operation are working as hard as possible to bring some clarity to the situation and some answers families and friends."
Media enquiries should be referred to the Police Media Line on 0274 320 960.