NZ quake official toll hits 160, many more missing

March 3, 2011 - 0:0

CHRISTCHURCH (AP) – Anguished family members visited collapsed buildings Wednesday where bodies of their loved ones lie trapped more than a week after New Zealand's earthquake, as officials said some remains may never be recovered from the rubble.

An official tour of the worst-hit sites in the Feb. 22 disaster was the first time many relatives had been so close to the places where the estimated 240 victims died.
“The mood was somber and it was very emotional for them,” police Superintendent Dave Cliff said. About 250 foreigners and 100 New Zealanders were among the family members who went on the trip. News crews were not invited.
An unknown number of students and staff from Japan, China and other countries were at an English-language school in one of the two office buildings that completely collapsed in the magnitude-6.3 quake. Police said last week that up to 120 bodies were inside the Canterbury Television, or CTV, building where the language school was located.
Cliff said five more bodies had been pulled from the rubble by recovery teams overnight Tuesday and on Wednesday, taking the confirmed death toll to 160. Many more people remain missing, and Cliff has said the final tally is likely to be around 240.