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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

98 confirmed dead in New Zealand quake

 

The confirmed death toll from the Christchurch earthquake has risen to 98, New Zealand Prime Minister John Key said on Thursday.

Police are yet to release details of the missing, but Key said in an interview on Television New Zealand that there were 226 people who police feared were trapped in buildings or crushed beneath debris.

It remained unclear how many of the often unidentified bodies had been listed as missing.

“”The indications we’re getting from the police … is that the loss of life could be more substantial than anyone of us had ever dreamed of,”” Key said.

The district commander of Canterbury police said it was believed that the 98 recovered bodies would be included in the list of 226 people police said were missing.

“”We’re gravely concerned about those individuals,”” Superintendent Dave Cliff said, warning the numbers may yet grow. Cliff said a police sergeant has witnessed the collapse of the city cathedral’s spire and had estimated between 16 and 22 people had been crushed.

Amongst those feared dead are up to 120 people in the ruins of the Canterbury Television Building, which caught on fire after it was flattened by the 6.3-magnitude quake Tuesday.

An English-language school in the building released a list of almost 100 staff and students who were missing or presumed to be inside. Fifteen staff of the television stations also failed to make it out.

The school was attended by students from ChinaSouth KoreaSaudi Arabiathe Philippines and Japan.

A Japanese search and rescue team was at work on that site, while other international teams were helping in other parts of the city.

“”It is a rescue operation at this point,”” Cliff said. “”If people are alive and trapped we are doing everything possible.””

He confirmed no one had been found alive since Wednesday afternoon. Police hoped to release a detailed missing persons list later in the day. The names of some of the dead would also be released.

Police Minister Judith Collins said the conditions at some of the devastated buildings were “”horrendous”” and there had been many acts of bravery by the rescue teams.

Asked if there was any truth to rumors of life in some of the buildings, Collins said: “”Not where I was.””

Health authorities said Thursday morning that 164 people had been admitted to hospitals, most with serious injuries, 431 treated at the emergency department and up to 2,000 seen for minor injuries at medical centers around the city.

Many people were still seeking to leave the city as inspectors began to examine the safety of the remaining homes and other buildings amid several aftershocks.

Eighty percent of Christchurch had no connection to the main water supply, 60 percent had no power, and other infrastructure such as sewer systems and gas supplies remained severely disrupted.

On Wednesday, the New Zealand government declared a national state of emergency for the first time in the country’s history.

Tuesday’s quake, which struck at 12:51 p.m. when office buildings and streets were full of people, was centered much closer to the surface and nearer to the city than the 7.1-magnitude quake in September that caused widespread damage but no fatalities.

The government was beginning to look at financial costs, with Key not ruling out total damage costing up to 12 billion U.S. dollars. Key said he hoped to announce an initial finance assistance package to Christchurch businesses and residents on Monday.

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