New Zealand mourns its dead; toll touches 155

Last Updated: Tuesday, March 1, 2011 - 20:49

Melbourne: New Zealand Tuesday mourned its
dead with a two-minute silence observed countrywide exactly a
week after Christchurch was hit by a devastating earthquake,
as rescuers confirmed the recovery of 155 bodies from the
debris.

As many as 240 people died in the 6.8 magnitude quake
that hit the southern city last Tuesday but rescue workers are
battling technical problems and aftershocks to pull out bodies
from the rubble.

Rescue workers today said they have so far pulled out
155 bodies from the debris of collapsed buildings but the rest
are still missing.

One week past the quake, New Zealanders joined in to
mourn the loss of lives in the tragedy with a two-minute
silence observed across the country to remember the victims.

Thousands fell silent with their heads bowed down and
rescue workers took a break from their job to observe the
mourning.

Traffic came to a standstill and flags flew at
half-staff across the country.

The government, meanwhile, ordered a probe into the
collapse of buildings, including the Canterbury Television
(CTV) building, which accounted for one of the largest mass
casualties in the city.

It is believed many bodies are still buried in the
ruins of the building, along with many more in the Pyne Gould
Corporation building, New Zealand Herald said.

"There has to be an inquiry, we have to provide
answers about why so many lost their lives," Prime Minister
John Key said.

The owners of the six-storey CTV building welcomed the
decision for inquiry and said they were "absolutely devastated
and distraught" over the catastrophic collapse.

A spokesperson for the owners said that the building
was `green-stickered` by the Christchurch City Council
following a quake in September which means an inspection had
been carried out and the building deemed secure for
occupation.

Key also said that New Zealanders had to learn lessons
from the earthquake.

"Some things are just beyond our control but we owe it
to people to give them answers," he said.

PTI



First Published: Tuesday, March 1, 2011 - 20:49

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