Earthquake death toll reaches 113

Last updated 21:25 25/02/2011

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Christchurch earthquake

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Thirteen staff at a medical centre are among the missing in the collapsed Canterbury TV (CTV) building in quake-hit Christchurch.

GP Victoria Flight, who owned the practice, said it was unknown how many patients had been inside The Clinic, based in the CTV building, when the 6.3 earthquake struck on Tuesday.

She said had only heard from one of the 14 staff working that day.

Meanwhile police have this evening released the names of two further confirmed victims of Tuesday's 6.3 magnitude earthquake.

They are Jeff Pelesa Sanft, 32 and Andrew Christian Ross Craig, 46. Both were Christchurch residents, as were the four, including two babies, already named.

Police also said there had been eight arrests relating to looting and other offences, including breaching the cordon in place around parts of central Christchurch. Two people have been remanded in custody after generators were stolen.


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» Couple marry after miracle survival

» Anxious wait for relatives

» The quake missing


COUPLE SHARE THEIR HAPPY DAY

Emma Howard recounted earlier today how she was trapped "in a foetal position" for a terrifying 6½ hours after she was thrown from her chair when the 6.3 magnitude quake struck at lunchtime on Tuesday.

This afternoon she married her partner Chris Greenslade, who she texted from the rubble amid her ordeal.

The couple, who planned their wedding months ago, were married in the Christ the King Catholic Church in Burnside this afternoon.

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When asked how she was feeling as she prepared to wed, she told waiting media she was tired.

"The church is still in perfect condition and we have a marquee out here on dad's front lawn for the reception," she said.

"I'm fortunate that everybody we invited originally will be there."

Her anxious-looking father knelt down to fan out his daughter's train and said: "It's what dads do I guess.

MANY LESS FORTUNATE

Meanwhile families overseas with relatives caught up in Tuesday's deadly Christchurch earthquake have been urged to prepare for the "worst type of news".

Foreign Minister Murray McCully said he had spoken to his international counterparts over the last two days and told them that some families in their countries should expect "very bad news".

"I've said to them that while we do not have the information that those families would want, we are at a point where some very negative conclusions need to be drawn," he said.

"There will be families receiving the worst type of news in the next few days."

The Christchurch quake death toll rose to 113 this morning. Police have urged tourists to phone home so they can determine if anyone should be struck-off the missing list.

Family and friends clutch passport photos outside the Papanui police station as they search for information about loved ones, still missing.

Leila Garcia, from Wellington, flew to Christchurch today with her husband James Garcia trying to find her sister Lalaine Agatep, 38, from the Philippines.

FAR-REACHING TRAGEDY

Of the 113 people confirmed dead so far, 20 are believed to be foreigners, while a number of the more than 200 missing are also believed to be from overseas.

Ninety international students and staff, including 13 Filipinos, from private training school King's Education are believed to be inside the flattened CTV building.

Superintendent Dave Cliff has pleaded for tourists in New Zealand to contact their families. "Please phone home, let your loved ones know where you are," he said.

Mrs Garcia said her sister flew from Wellington to Christchurch on Sunday to start studying at the Kings Education English school, on the third floor of the CTV building.

The couple have not heard from Ms Agatep since they dropped her at Wellington Airport on Sunday and hold grave fears for her safety.

Hopes are fading for another Irishman who worked in a building destroyed by the magnitude 6.3 quake.

The British Press Association reported he had been named as JJ O'Connor from Abbeydorney in County Kerry.

The man, aged in his mid-40s and married with children, was an accountant in the Pyne Gould Corporation building which has collapsed.

Psychiatric nurse Eoin McKenna, who had been living in New Zealand for about six years, is among those already confirmed dead.

A chef, Gregory Tobin, 25, from Tadcaster, North Yorkshire, is also reported to have died.

Meanwhile Susan Selway, 50, a clinical psychologist who was working in the CTV Building is missing and presumed dead.

She is married to a New Zealander, and has two stepchildren. She is chairwoman of the STOP Trust, which works with address sexual abuse, and has been a lecturer at Canterbury University.

McCully said the New Zealand Government would do everything it could to enable the grieving families to "meet their own needs over the next few days".

Signs of the international help are spread throughout the city, from Singaporean army officers manning cordons to American medical tents at welfare centres.

Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker said words could not describe how grateful he was for the overseas help.

"It means absolutely everything," he said.

"To have people from many nations coming here to help this city is deeply moving and deeply supportive for all of us, and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts."

NO SIGNS OF LIFE IN CATHEDRAL

More Christchurch residents are expected to leave their homes in the coming days with a national state of emergency expected to continue for several weeks.

Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee said the quake would be one of the biggest global insurance events of 2011 with the cost of the recovery in excess of $NZ 10 billion.

Brownlee said a national state of emergency would continue for several weeks as officials worked to get a better picture of what was required to keep the city centre safe.

Search and rescue teams who have lowered a camera into the main part of ChristChurch Cathedral say there are no signs of life.

Rescue workers began the grim task of removing bodies from the cathedral this morning.

Up to 22 people are believed to have been buried in the rubble of the cathedral after the spire toppled in Tuesday's 6.3 magnitude quake.

Rescue experts said stone and rubble was filling the building up to a height of around 20 metres.

"We put a camera in before but there was nothing. No sound, nothing," a rescuer said.

There is little chance of finding survivors at the flattened Pyne Gould Corporation building, where bodies were pulled from the rubble overnight.

The top two floors of the Canterbury TV building, where up to 122 people are unaccounted for, have been removed, Urban Search and Rescue spokesman Mitchell Brown said.

Inspector Mark Harrison said police had established a large liaison team to begin contacting families with missing relatives.

He said daily briefings are being held for the families with several hundred people attended yesterday's meeting.

He said some people had been reported as missing many times - up to 20 on one occasion - so it took time to work through the list.

About 600 search and rescue staff, who failed to find any survivors overnight, have been working in shifts searching the central city rubble today.

RESIDENTS TOLD TO KEEP CALM

Mayor Bob Parker said engineers were assessing local shopping centres and malls. The focus was on medical centres and pharmacies.

Parker said 80 teams of four people were checking properties and the welfare of the people living in them.

"We are doing everything we can to rescue people - our assumption is we will be finding people alive, we don't know if that's true but that's the process we are working to."

Civil Defence Director John Hamilton reiterated this morning there was no need for people to stockpile or "risky steps" to store petrol.

"Christchurch will not run out of petrol, or fuel. Same with food," he said.

Operational supermarkets had plenty of food with good links to supplies.

Army engineers have today established two water production facilities - on the waterfront in Lyttleton and another in New Brighton - to provide water. The plants are reverse osmosis systems that desalinate seawater and produce 2000 litres of fresh water every hour.

The weather had changed today with rain, not expected to ease until this afternoon, making conditions dangerous for rescue workers, one of whom had been hit by falling debris this morning.

More than 450 people were in welfare centres overnight, 164 had received serious injuries and 11 patients were in intensive care.

Carter said it was hoped that a more comprehensive understanding of the level of infrastructure damage, including water, sewage and power, would be available in the next 24 to 48 hours.

There was no need for panic buying, reported in Kaiapoi and other areas, as there was sufficient food and water going into the city, Carter said.

Meanwhile police last night arrested two men, aged 22 and 23, and charged them with the theft of several emergency generators from the city.

They will attend a special court hearing at the Christchurch central police station today.

QUAKE VICTIMS NAMED

Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker said this morning that as more names of the dead were released it was going to be increasingly distressing for people.

"Later, as names come out there will be people you know."

The names of the first four quake victims, including two babies, were released last night.

Jayden Harris, nine months, and five-month-old Baxtor Gowland both perished.

Also killed were  Joseph Tehau Pohio, 40, and Jaime Robert McDowell Gilbert, 22. All were from Christchurch.

Two British nationals are also known to have died, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said Thursday.

Police appealed for understanding from families as they work to identify the bodies of victims.

"We know it's an agonising wait for families desperate to find out about their loved-ones, but there is a legal requirement for this work to be completed to standards set by the Coroner," police disaster victim identification commander Mike Wright said.

Police were required to follow the international process of disaster victim identification, which did not rely solely on visual identification as in stressful conditions distraught relatives could often mistakenly identify loved ones.

At least 106 staff were working quickly but methodically on identification which included using fingerprints, DNA, dental records and personal information, he said.

The Chief Coroner's office has said that any specific information about people could help speed up the identification process including photographs.

A spokesman said family and friends should provide the information to the main Red Cross number of 0800 733276. That could include any distinguishing features, such as tattoos or marks on a person's body, clothes they might have been wearing and jewellery - especially distinctive pieces.

Cliff said were concerned about releasing the names of the missing. "The risk around releasing the names of the missing is just too great."

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