Melbourne: New Zealand has called off search
for survivors of the Christchurch quake as there is no chance
of finding any more of them, Prime Minister John Key said
on Thursday, as rescuers recovered more bodies taking the toll in
the 6.3 magnitude tremor to 161.
The focus has now shifted to the recovery of bodies, Key
He said families have been briefed about the shift in the
recovery phase after authorities acknowledged that no one else
"All of us held on to hope there would be a miracle.
Sadly, today`s announcement (that there were not any more
survivors) means we must now confront the permanence of that
loss," Key said.
The city is expected to host a national memorial
service in the coming days.
The death toll from the last week`s quake stood at 161
and as more bodies were expected to be pulled out of the
debris it could touch 220.
Key said that there was a possibility that 100 foreign
nationals may have died in the 6.3-magnitude quake.
The central business district of the city, which is New
Zealand`s second-largest, will be closed for at least six
months, he said.
Civil Defence head John Hamilton said earlier that expert
advice had led to the difficult decision to call off the
Around 60 people were pulled alive from the rubble in
the hours following the quake, but it had been eight days
since any survivors had been found, he said.
"As time goes on the chances of finding others alive
diminishes," Hamilton said.
"We now face the reality there is no chance that anyone
could have survived this long. There becomes a time when the
response has to change from rescue to the recovery of bodies
and, sadly, we have reached that point," he said.
Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker said the ultimate aim was
to find the body of every person who died in the quake.
"We have always said it is our goal to reunite everybody who
is currently missing with their families," Parker said.