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Olympian Pushes Tourism to Help N.Z.

Olympian Pushes Tourism to Help N.Z.

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In the aftermath of the earthquake that rocked New Zealand,openly gay Olympian Blake Skjellerup is urging people around the world to come to his country as a way to help it find its financial footing.

"For those who want to help," the speed skater wrote on Facebook, "save your pennies and make that trip to New Zealand you have always wanted to do in a year from now. Christchurch is truly an amazing city. Today is its darkest day and my thoughts go out to those who have lost loved ones. Christchurch will need our love and care for years to come."

Christchurch mayor Bob Parker said Wednesday (local time) that the death toll from the 6.3 magnitude quake has risen to 55, and as many as 300 people could be missing. In response to the country's deadliest earthquake in 80 years, about 70 U.S. emergency rescue workers are being sent to assist on the ground, the Agence France-Presse reports.

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