24/02/2011

Irishman Trapped Under Building In NZ

It has emerged an Irishman is one of those trapped under a building in the aftermath of the New Zealand earthquake.

It has also been confirmed that at least two Britons died in the earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand's second city along with 96 other confirmed victims whose bodies have been recovered to a temporary mortuary in the city.

Around 226 people are also still missing after the 6.3-magnitude earthquake struck at lunchtime on Tuesday, when the South Island city was at its busiest.

There's hope though after the Irish man was located alive but trapped under the Pyne Gould Guinness building in the city of Christchurch, (pictured), where rescue efforts are ongoing.

Officials are also still trying to trace the whereabouts of one other Irish person who is reported missing in the area.

Police in the area revealed this morning that they have 98 bodies. Spokesman Superintendent Cliff said identification of the remainder of these would be a long and complex process.

"In most cases, visual identification of these bodies is proving to be extremely difficult," he said.

"We have a large team working through the list of those who have been reported missing by loved ones. At this stage we can confirm that we have 226 people listed as missing. Because of our inquiries and the likelihood that these missing people are believed to be in the most severely affected areas of Christchurch we hold serious concerns that they have not survived."
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On Wednesday it was confirmed that Eoin McKenna, who was in his mid-40s, from County Monaghan, had died in the quake. He had been living in the country for several years and was married to a New Zealand woman.

Confirming the death, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said there were also serious concerns for the safety of three other Irish people who are missing in the area.

Another 200 Irish nationals are registered in Christchurch, and the DFA said there were “general concerns” for the safety of around 70.

Speaking in New Zealand, police spokesman Superintendent Cliff said: "300 people are reported missing. Some of these people could be trapped in buildings but others may just have difficulty contacting family."

Police have been asking people to come to a Family Liaison Centre along the Main North Road of the city to register their concerns for missing family. Currently, many residents are ignoring police cordons in attempts to rescue loved ones.

The quake, measuring 6.3 on the Richter scale struck at 11.51pm on Monday, only 10km southeast of the city.

Anyone with concerns regarding family or friends who may be in the Christchurch area is asked to contact the Department at 4180222 or register details on the Department's travel registration system, a link to which is available on the Department's home-page: www.dfa.ie

See: Two Britons Killed In Christchurch Quake

(DW/GK)

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