Two Irish people are confirmed dead in the Christchurch, New Zealand earthquake the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs has said.

Three others are still unaccounted for and the search is continuing for them. They have not made contact with family and were known to be in the area.

Meanwhile an Irish construction worker was being hailed as a hero after pulling two people from the quake rubble.

Construction worker Paddy McGowan (26), from  Donegal, was in an internet cafe in the centre of the city when the quake hit.

He described it as being like the movie ‘Independence Day’ with sidewalks rising up and buildings collapsing.

He ran to the aid of people trapped and succeeded in pulling two people clear.

Meanwhile, Dublin-born Natasha Massey (41) described how she had to escape from her house with her two children. "We had to run for our lives to open ground," she told the Irish Independent.

Car crushed under rubble at Christchurch Catholic Cathedral