No survivors as New Zealand quake search goes on

Rescue work at the CTV building on Friday 25 February 2011 Teams from several nations are searching collapsed buildings in Christchurch

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Rescue workers in New Zealand found no survivors during another day of searching in the quake-hit city of Christchurch, as the slow process of identifying the dead began.

More than 220 people remain missing in the wake of Tuesday's earthquake. Rescuers believe multiple bodies lie beneath three collapsed structures.

The death toll stands at 113 people, of whom six have been formally identified.

On Friday, teams began removing the felled spire of Christchurch Cathedral.

Officials believe up to 22 bodies may lie beneath the rubble there.

"We're having to move extremely slowly, we're working brick by brick. There are a lot of loved ones in here that we want to get out," rescue worker Steve Culhane told Reuters news agency.

As many as 120 people are thought to have been killed inside the collapsed CTV office block, including Japanese, Chinese and Philippine nationals.

Another concentration of the missing is thought to be inside the destroyed Pyne Gould building.

Seventy people were found in the rubble in the 24 hours after the earthquake, but no survivors have been found since late on Wednesday despite the presence of teams from around the world on the ground.

At the epicentre

Just outside the port of Lyttelton we saw one of the more startling sights of the Christchurch quake - a bungalow with a gaping hole through its middle that looked as if it had been hit by a missile rather than an earthquake.

At first glance, it was hard to make sense of what could have happened. But then, about 50m further down the hill, we saw the massive boulder that had come hurtling down the escarpment and crashed through the core of the property.

It was the size of a small car, and had seemingly hopped over the road like a bouncing bomb. Most remarkable of all, perhaps, it had not killed anybody.

"The rescue focus is drawing towards a conclusion," Foreign Minister Murray McCully said. "We're getting to the end of that period in which you can still have hope."

Christchurch mayor Bob Parker said residents should steel themselves for the death toll to rise "substantially" in the next 24-48 hours.

'Must be alive'

Families of the missing have appealed for the identification process to be accelerated, but officials are using DNA identification and have asked for patience.

Relatives of missing foreign nationals have also been arriving from overseas.

"My son and daughter must be alive," South Korea's Yonhap news agency quoted 57-year-old Yoo Sang-cheol, as saying as he arrived in Christchurch.

"I hear that some of the injured people have not yet been identified, so I'm going to go to the hospitals immediately," he said.

Power has now been restored to 80% of the city but water supply remains a problem. Residents are being urged to boil water for drinking or cooking because of contamination fears.

Roads have been damaged by liquefaction - where the earth loses its strength because of the shaking. Officials said levels were between 300 and 500% worse than after the previous - more powerful - earthquake in September 2010.

Looting has been reported in some places, as well as the presence of conmen trying to pass themselves off as government officials to secure access to people's homes.

"I am frankly sickened by people like this, who see this disaster as an opportunity to prey on vulnerable people," said police superintendent Russell Gibson.

Troops and police are out in force in the city, and 300 Australian police officers have been drafted in to assist.

'So lucky'

But amid the misery there was one bright spot - as a woman pulled from the rubble of the Pyne Gould building went ahead with her wedding.

Quake survivor, Emma Howard: "I just assumed we wouldn't be getting married."

Emma Howard spent six hours trapped in the building, as rescue teams and her fiance worked to get her out.

"I'm so lucky I didn't get under my desk," the 23-year-old told local media. "My desk was crushed by the corner of the concrete (ceiling) above me that came down."

The 6.3-magnitude earthquake struck at a shallow depth of 5km (3.1 miles) early on Tuesday afternoon, when the South Island city was at its busiest.

It was Christchurch's second major tremor in five months, and New Zealand's deadliest natural disaster for 80 years.

CLICKABLE Select the images for more details.

Bexley, Christchurch, New Zealand Pyne Gould Guinness, Christchurch, New Zealand Cathedral, Christchurch, New Zealand CTV, Christchurch, New Zealand Oxford terrace, Christchurch, New Zealand

Bexley

Bexley,  Christchurch, New Zealand

Streets in the north-eastern suburb of Bexley were flooded as the quake caused water mains to burst, which coincided with heavy rain.

Pyne Gould Guinness

Pyne Gould Guinness

The multi-storey Pyne Gould Guinness Building, which normally houses around 200 workers, collapsed. A number of people were thought to be trapped inside.

Cathedral

Cathedral,  Christchurch, New Zealand

The 63m spire of the city's Anglican cathedral was toppled by the earthquake. A New Zealand TV reporter took a look inside the damaged building.

CTV building

CTV building, Christchurch, New Zealand

Part of Christchurch's Canterbury Television [CTV] building completely collapsed in the earthquake. Some 24 people have been rescued from the building, but police said there might be between 60 and 120 bodies trapped underneath.

Oxford Terrace

Oxford terrace,  Christchurch, New Zealand

In the aftermath of the earthquake, Rhys Taylor took this video on Oxford Terrace, 50 metres away from the city's main hospital. He said: "Cars were being used as ambulances to transport the injured."

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