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New Zealand earthquake: Officials warn rescue phase almost over

02-26-2011 09:51 BJT Special Report:6.3-magnitude quake hits New Zealand |

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According to latest reports, the official death toll in the New Zealand earthquake has climbed to 123. Distraught relatives, continue to wait for news of their loved ones, missing in Christchurch, even as officials warn, that the rescue phase is slowly drawing to a conclusion.

According to latest reports, the official death toll in the New Zealand earthquake has climbed to 123. Distraught relatives, continue to wait for news of their loved ones, missing in Christchurch, even as officials warn, that the rescue phase is slowly drawing to a conclusion.

Officials say no one had been pulled out alive since an initial 70 rescues from collapsed buildings in the first 25 hours after Tuesday's magnitude 6.3 quake.

Foreign Minister Murray McCully warned on Friday that the rescue phase - involving hundreds of police, soldiers and others - was almost over.

Murray McCullay said, "We're in the point in this process that we can say, with I think some certainty, that over the next day or two we will be in touch with them to give some very bad news indeed to many families in their countries."

An English language school was one of the hardest-hit buildings. The Canterbury Television office block, and students from Japan, China, the Philippines and other nations are believed to be among those inside when it collapsed.

According to latest reports, the official death toll in the New Zealand earthquake has climbed to 123. Distraught relatives, continue to wait for news of their loved ones, missing in Christchurch, even as officials warn, that the rescue phase is slowly drawing to a conclusion.

Police say up to 120 bodies are still inside and that no one is expected to have survived.

However, Japan's Vice foreign minister Hisashi Tokunaga said from Christchurch that he has not yet given up hope.

He said, "Right now, we don't have any information on any Japanese people that are already dead. So, we will continue to believe that there should be survivors, and we will make every effort to rescue those people,"

Officials have released the names of just six victims - all Christchurch residents, including two infant boys - and are sticking to a painstaking process of DNA or other scientific identification before telling families, in order to avoid mistakes.

Workers on Friday also began gingerly picking through the piles of crumbled stone of the iconic Christchurch Cathedral, where the spire tower collapsed and officials say up to 22 bodies may lay entombed.

Residents have been urged to stay near home, keep out of the way of recovery workers and avoid the countless shaky buildings that dot the city's landscape.

Editor:Zhang Jingya |Source: CNTV.CN

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