Quake hits home

Two Timaru men working in a Christchurch church are among those confirmed dead after Tuesday's devastating earthquake.

South Island Organ Company factory foreman Neil Stocker, factory employee Scott Lucy and a volunteer from Christchurch, Paul Dunlop, were part of a team of eight dismantling an organ at the Durham St Methodist Mission Church when the 6.3 magnitude earthquake struck at lunchtime on Tuesday.

The Christchurch landmark was badly damaged in last year's September 4 quake and damaged further by the Boxing Day aftershock.

Director John Hargraves said two team members were not in the building and another managed to escape unaided. The three searched the rubble and freed two other team members who were trapped, but were unable to locate Mr Stocker, Mr Lucy or Mr Dunlop before police cordoned off the site.

Search teams, first with sniffer dogs and later heavy equipment, worked through Tuesday night searching the debris for the men, and yesterday staff at the company's Washdyke premise waited anxiously for news.

However, by yesterday afternoon police had unofficially identified the bodies of all three men, and he had spoken to their families, Mr Hargraves said.

Mr Stocker had been with the company for 42 years.

While Mr Hargraves said he would be at the company's premises today, staff were not expected to be at work.

Last night the official death toll from the quake stood at 75, with dozens still missing.

The organ in the church was being removed to be stored in Timaru while a decision on the church's future was being made.

Mr Hargraves said the job was not rushed into, and they had waited for the building to be thoroughly checked and given clearance before the removal started, he said.

The Timaru Herald