CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand, Feb. 23 (UPI) -- Filmmaker Peter Jackson has pledged to help those affected by this week's earthquake in his native New Zealand.
Jackson is working on his latest project, "The Hobbit," in the country where officials declared a state of emergency Wednesday. He is to start shooting the two-part prequel to "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy March 21.
Seventy-six people were reported killed in Tuesday's quake and more than 200 were still listed as missing.
"Everyone involved in the production of 'The Hobbit' is shocked and saddened by the earthquake and it's devastating aftermath," Jackson said in a statement issued to The Hollywood Reporter.
Several of the movie's actors and crew members are from Christchurch, the city devastated by the quake.
"We are doing all we can to support them," Jackson said, adding the production has reached out to the New Zealand Ministry of Civil Defense and Emergency Management "to offer practical assistance and stands ready to help in any way we can."
"Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Christchurch and all those affected by this terrible tragedy," Jackson said.