Quake death toll climbs to 147

19:43, Feb 27 2011
Constable David Filmer and Christine Carter
HELPING HANDS: Constable David Filmer gets some tension relief from Christine Carter. Carter has been giving stress relief therapy to police and rescue workings coming back from their duties at the end of a long day.
David Hallfrey
Dave Hallfrey from ENZEND Canterbury has been giving away free sausages and bread, just to help out.
David Hallfrey and Emma Gray
Dave Hallfrey (from ENZED Canterbury) and Emma Gray (from Divine Cake company), have been giving away free food near the Palms Mall.
Nelson Redcross Response
The Nelson Redcross Response team, Hugh Leckie, Isabelle Lotscher, Cheynne Leslie, David van der Peet, Debbie Preest, Steve King, Lee Bradley and Tasman area manager Fraser Benson prepare to head out to the suburbs of Christchurch this morning.
Richmond
A cyclist rides through a silt and water logged street in the suburb of Richmond.
Richmond
A disorientated cat drinks from ground water in a gutter in the suburb of Richmond.
Thomas Healey
Thomas Healey carries a full gas bottle tied to his back, back to a relief centre in New Brighton.
New Brighton
Residents in New Brighton collect water from a tanker that came through their street early in the day.
Lyttelton
A crane clears debris in Lyttelton.
Latimar Square
Inside the area for the rescue workers at Latimer Square.
Hambledon Bed and Breakfast
Members of the Smith family watch as their historic house is demolished in Christchurch. The 1850s-era Hambledon Bed and Breakfast was left uninhabitable after the September quake.
John Key
Prime Minister John Key visited the tent city at Latimer Square and got a hug from one of the English rescue workers.
Gerry Brownlee and John Key greet rescue workers
Prime Minister John Keyand Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee greet rescue workers on a visit to the tent city in Latimer Square, Christchurch.
Gerry Brownlee and John Key greet rescue workers
Prime Minister John Keyand Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee greet rescue workers on a visit to the tent city in Latimer Square, Christchurch.
John Key
Prime Minister John Key visits the tent city at Latimer Square.
John Key
Prime Minister John Key visits the tent city at Latimer Square.
Bryony, Brent and Shannon Smith
Brent Smith with his daughters Bryony and Shannon at the site of their Christchurch house which had to be destroyed after it was severly damaged by both quakes.
Hambledon Bed and Breakfast
Brent Smith has had his house destroyed after it was severly damaged after both quakes.
Latimer Square
A rescue worker in tent city at Latimer Square.
Noy Godfrey
Shirley resident Noy Godfrey doesn't know where to start as she cleans the sand from the front of her home.
Christchurch
Dust fills the streets of Christchurch as the sand left over from liquefaction starts to dry out.
Paul Stratford
Shirley resident Paul Stratford has a laugh as he tries to clear the sand away from his daughter's rocking horse in his Riselaw street backyard.
Paul Stratford
Shirley resident Paul Stratford cleans the sand away from his daughter's toy Batmobile.
Todd Roydon
Palmers street resident Todd Roydon next to his house which has been condemed.
Christchurch
Resident around Christchurch begin the painful task of cleaning up in the suburbs after the devastating 6.3 earthquake earlier in the week.
John Key
Prime Minister John Key prior to the start of a media conference.
Christchurch
A Chinese recovery team works with members of New Zealand Urban Search and Rescue to carry a body from the Canterbury TV site.
Chris Crishom helps clean up the streets of Christchurch.
Chris Crishom helps clean up the streets of Christchurch.
Ross Whelan and daughter Madelyne Whelan stand beside the remains of their local shops in Christchurch.
Ross Whelan and daughter Madelyne Whelan stand beside the remains of their local shops in Christchurch.
 John Key, Gerry Brownlee and Bob Parker
Prime Minister John Key, Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee and Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker outside Latimer Square.
Police patrol on push bikes
Police patrol the city centre on push bikes.
Martine Ribotton is comforted as her place of work is demolished
Lyttelton Lounge worker Martine Ribotton is comforted as the cafe where she worked is demolished.
A Southern Demolition worker retrieves a chair from the Lyttelton Lounge.
A Southern Demolition worker retrieves a chair from the condemned Lyttelton Lounge at the request of the owner. He did not know his cafe was being demolished.
An expert screens the rubble at the destroyed CTV site in Madras St.
An expert screens the rubble at the destroyed CTV site in Madras St.
Helen Clark comforts Murray Shaw.
Helen Clark comforts Murray Shaw, the deputy chair of New Zealand On Air, outside the Civil Defence headquaters in Christchurch today.
Christchurch Catholic Bascilica.
The Christchurch Bascilica lies in ruins.
Children ride past piles of liquefaction.
Children ride their bikes past huge piles of liquefaction along Roxburgh street in Beckenham. Farmers spent the morning clearing the silt and making the road passable.
Student volunteer army members Lynda Wright and Liz Williams.
Student volunteer army members help to clean up an Avonside Drive property. At front, from left, are Lynda Wright and Liz Williams.
USAR team walks passed the Christchurch Art Centre.
A USAR team walks passed the Christchurch Art Centre.
Inspector Mike Coulter looks after Police Communications in the Christchurch Central Police station.
Inspector Mike Coulter looks after Police Communications in the Christchurch Central Police station.
Linda Harrison (left at the table) continues working as the Governer General Anand Satyanand talks John Hamilton behind.
Linda Harrison (left at the table) continues working as the Governer General Anand Satyanand talks to Civil Defence chief John Hamilton behind.
Te Awhina Marae in Motueka has opened its doors to earthquake refugees from Canterbury. Motueka's Aroha Pimley, left, and Liam Patu help fold sheets.
Te Awhina Marae in Motueka has opened its doors to earthquake refugees from Canterbury. Motueka's Aroha Pimley, left, and Liam Patu help fold sheets.
Nelson police inspectors Iain McKenzie left, and Ross Lienert on the corner of Bealey Ave and Victoria Street at the edge on the cordon area, before starting their night shift on Sunday.
Nelson police inspectors Iain McKenzie left, and Ross Lienert on the corner of Bealey Ave and Victoria Street at the edge on the cordon area, before starting their night shift on Sunday.
A passerby walks past the destroyed Pharmacy building on the corner of Bealey Ave and Colombo Street.
A passerby walks past the destroyed Pharmacy building on the corner of Bealey Ave and Colombo Street.

The death toll from Tuesday's devastating Christchurch earthquake will be more than 200, police say.

Police superintendent Dave Cliff said there were now 147 people confirmed dead following the 6.3-magnitude quake.

Most, if not all, of those people will be on the police list of missing people, meaning more than 50 people are unaccounted for, Cliff said.

When asked if the death toll was likely to be around 200 Cliff said: "yes, and probably a bit more".

Two more victim's names will be released tomorrow, he said.

Fire Service spokesman Paul Baxter said Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) staff were making steady progress and were about a quarter of the way through clearing buildings within the central business district (CBD) cordon - where a third of buildings have been condemned.

Searchers were "delayering" the rubble, removing it piece by piece in a painstaking process, at the CTV building, where up to 120 people are believed to have died.

Steel tubes had been put into some parts of the ChristChurch Cathedral and teams were crawling through these tubes, pushing small hand-guided diggers in front of them to burrow in.

The tubes offered "really good protection" in the case of further aftershocks, he said.

Rescue specialists were consulting with engineers over the best way to enter the Hotel Grand Chancellor, which was left badly damaged after the quake.

The Fire Service was also dealing with an increased number of car crashes and hazardous substance mishaps and advised people to be cautious when returning to damaged buildings and when using candles and portable cookers.

Advertisement

Christchurch mayor Bob Parker said the work that search and rescue teams were doing was "psychologically demanding" but the teams were "in good heart".

"They have not given up hope, they are working very hard."

DAMAGE 'LIKE HAITI'

The devastation continues to impede rescue efforts with Key's predecessor, Helen Clark, today saying the damage in central Christchurch was like what she had seen in Haiti following the magnitude 7 quake which killed nearly 230,000 people there last year.

Police said some victims may never be identified due to the level of destruction and the terrible injuries it caused.

Prime Minister John Key said it was "vital we reach as many people throughout the world as possible who want to help. This isn't just New Zealand's tragedy - the February 22 earthquake affected countless people internationally''.

Key had been humbled by the offers of help pouring in from around the world and the Christchurch Earthquake Appeal gave people another means of donating to the recovery effort.

It was designed to complement those already being run by the Red Cross and Salvation Army.

"It's my intention that the Government will work alongside these organisations to make sure the funds are used in the best possible way."

Key said government departments at home and around the world would be throwing their weight behind the appeal, which was being kicked off with half the proceeds from Saturday's Lotto draw.

He was encouraging New Zealanders to give generously.

Key virtually ruled out a special one-off tax following the quake, but said the EQC levy would rise three-fold.

'IT'S A DEVASTATING SITUATION'

Clark, now head of the United Nations' development programme, toured the city this afternoon as a "private citizen".

"It's a devastating scene. This is Napier and Hastings [earthquakes] plus,'' she said.

"My heart goes out to everybody," Clark said. "So many people are no longer with us, grieving families, people with terrible injuries, people whose livelihoods are destroyed, homes destroyed, it's a devastating situation.''

Clark was in Pakistan when she was alerted to the quake by a text message from Labour MP Darren Hughes.

Her nephew, a Lincoln University student, was in his flat in Riccarton and though the wall of his house collapsed, he was unhurt, she said.

Colleagues at the UN had flooded her with messages of support.

Help from the UN was all but ruled out, with Clark pointing to New Zealand's preparedness, its relative prosperity and the great support it had from its international neighbours.

"New Zealand will get through it."

GRIM TASK

Cliff said 166 police staff were working to help identify victims, but it was possible not all of the dead people would be identified due to the nature of injuries caused by the quake and fires at some sites.

"Where there is intense fire, like at the CTV [Canterbury Television] site, it presents real difficulties.

"I don't want to pre-empt what will happen, but we need to brace ourselves that that possibility does exist. We are not at that point yet, but it is a risk," Cliff said.

He said DNA would be used wherever possible and police hoped to release at least one more victim's name today.

Cliff repeated calls for overseas tourists visiting New Zealand to call home to tell family they were safe. Police believed some of the names of foreigners on the missing list were not actually missing.

He wore a symbolic huia feather to remember a police staff member who was still missing.

Cliff praised the efforts of his staff, saying the biggest problem was "getting them to go home".

Tertiary Education Minister Steven Joyce today said it was believed there were in excess of 60 staff and students missing from the King's Education institute based in the CTV building.

Police have previously said up to 120 people, including CTV staff and those working at a medical centre, were feared trapped inside.

THE RESCUE EFFORT

Baxter said USAR teams had been able to search the buildings in the vicinity of the teetering Hotel Grand Chancellor, which engineers were trying to stabilise.

They also continued to work at the Pyne Gould Corporation (PGC) and Canterbury Television buildings. British teams at the PGC building were having to work around asbestos.

USAR teams were also making slow and careful progress at ChristChurch Cathedral.

Baxter said there had been five fires in the last 24 hours - three were related to power coming back on and people were injured.

Civil Defence and rescue teams had also evacuated residents from the quake-stricken Christchurch suburb of Mt Pleasant overnight.

Twenty-three properties in Bridle Path Road, La Costa Lane, Maffeys Road and McCormacks Bay Road were evacuated due to falling rocks.

Parker said said 6,500 homes had been checked off by search and rescue teams, out of a total of 50,000. He said the number of teams would be doubled on Monday.

It was estimated 62,500 people were still without water, 100,000 had no sewerage services, and 30,000 homes were without power.

Parker said around 100,000 fliers would be issued in Christchurch's damaged eastern suburbs today, containing key contact numbers and information.

Seismic activity had reduced in the area in the past 24 hours, with the number and size of the aftershocks dropping.

Parker urged people to join together today, to attend church services even if they weren't religious, so they could share their experiences with others.

- Stuff and NZPA