rediff.com

NewsApp (Free)

Read news as it happens
Download NewsApp

Available on  

Rediff News  All News 
Rediff.com  » News » 'Carnage' in NZ after quake; 75 dead

'Carnage' in NZ after quake; 75 dead

Last updated on: February 23, 2011 10:19 IST

'Carnage' in NZ after quake; 75 dead, 300 missing

     Next

Next

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key on Wednesday declared a national state of emergency confirming the death toll at 75 following the devastating earthquake that led to massive buildings and property damage around the country's second-largest city of Christchurch.

Around 55 bodies had been identified and there were a further 20 unidentified bodies, media reports said. Another 300 people were listed as missing, though not all of them would be trapped in buildings that were being searched for survivors.

Rescuers have had to amputate limbs to free survivors from collapsed buildings after the quake, police said. Superintendent Russell Gibson said bodies still littered the streets.

"There is incredible carnage right throughout the city," Gibson was quoted by media reports in Christchurch.

Please click NEXT to read further..


Image: Rescue crews look for staff in the damaged Pyne Gould Guinness building in central Christchurch after the earthquake
Photographs: Simon Baker/Reuters
     Next

'Our focus has turned on the living'

Prev     Next
Prev

Next

"There are bodies littering the streets, they are trapped in cars and crushed under rubble where they are clearly deceased. Our focus has turned on the living," he said.

Gibson said the number of trapped "could be another 100, it could easily be more than that", adding the toll would rise.

"It will be significantly higher than that," he said. More than 500 rescuers, including police and military personnel, pulled between 20 and 30 people from the debris overnight, toiling through the darkness, he added.

Overall, 120 people have been pulled alive from the rubble. "It's quite amazing, we have some people we've pulled out and they haven't got so much as a scratch on them. We've had other people where we've had to amputate limbs to get them out," Gibson said.


Image: Distraught friend of one of the people missing in earthquake damaged CTV building looks on as firemen and search teams look through rubble for survivors in central Christchurch
Photographs: Simon Baker/Reuters
Prev     Next

'There are still people trapped in the rubble'

Prev     Next
Prev

Next

Rescue efforts focused on the CTV building in Madras Street and the Pyne Gould Guinness Building in Cambridge Terrace, both of which collapsed.

Eleven people were pulled from them overnight. According to another police official, David Cliff, the priority had to be for the living.

"There are still people trapped in the rubble who are texting loved ones and keeping us informed," Cliff said adding the pancaked CTV building was of particular concern, with many people still trapped in there.

"We want to systematically go through the city and look in the rubble," he said.

"It has been really heart-wrenching -- we know there are bodies, we know there are deceased but our priority has to be with the living," he added.


Image: Firemen hose down the rubble of the CTV building which was devastated by a 6.3 magnitude earthquake in central Christchurch
Photographs: Simon Baker/Reuters
Prev     Next

'About 1000 people spent the night at the two welfare centres'

Prev     Next
Prev

Next

He said the Australian police on their way to New Zealand would be used to man cordons and maintain normal policing while his own members tended to their own problems.

"We've got a lot of our own people with significant problems at home, more of our own staff with houses destroyed," Cliff said.

Acting head of the emergency department at Christchurch Hospital, Mike Ardagh, said about 200 people had been through their unit overnight.

Meanwhile, the city's water system was put out of action by Tuesday's earthquake. The mayor said the city had established a network of at least six schools where residents could go for water.

Parker said the city had requisitioned food and additional blankets under its emergency powers so supplies could be sent to the emergency temporary accommodation centres.

He said about 1000 people spent the night at the two welfare centres that were set up.


Image: An injured resident arrives at the car park of a 24-hour surgery on Bealey Avenue in Christchurch
Photographs: Simon Baker/Reuters
Prev     Next

'Christchurch, the world is with you'

Prev     More
Prev

More

Prime Minister John Key on Wednesday gave a rousing speech hailing the bravery of Christchurch residents and telling them that they would not go through the post-earthquake ordeal alone.

"Christchurch, today is the day when your great comeback begins," he said. "The world is with you ... they are putting their shoulder to your wheel."

"Christchurch, this not your test, this is New Zealand's test. I promise we will meet that test."

He also announced a national state of emergency. Christchurch airport announced it was resuming domestic flights and called on all passengers to check with their airlines before heading to the terminal.

The quake happened only six months after buildings were weakened by a 7.1 quake that miraculously claimed no victims.


Image: Cars are crushed by fallen concrete after an earthquake in central Christchurch
Photographs: Simon Baker/Reuters
Prev     More
© Copyright 2014 PTI. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PTI content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent.