New Zealand police Wednesday abandoned hope of finding survivors in a six-storey building which collapsed after a major earthquake, adding foreign students were likely among the dead.
“This particular site, CTV site, had a number of overseas students in it and my heart goes out to those families that are away knowing that some of their children, family have probably been killed in this incident,” said police operations commander Dave Lawry, referring to the Canterbury TV building.
“The situation is that we don’t believe this site is now survivable,” he added.
Lawry said the building, which housed the King’s Education College English language school on its third floor, was deteriorating and there were fears it could collapse further, endangering rescuers.
“At a certain point, I am not going to risk my staff for people who I believe there is no chance of survivability,” he told reporters. He said it was a “sad fact” that emergency personnel were now moving resources from the building and would be redirecting them to other sites where there was a better chance of finding survivors.
Lawry said his heart went out to the family and friends of the presumed dead who had “come to our country and had bad luck”.
New Zealand media is reporting that 24 people have been pulled from the rubble of the CTV building, but that seven people had died inside and at least 22 others were listed as missing.
Lawry gave no details on the possible nationalities of those trapped inside the building but at least 23 Japanese are among the 300 missing after the 6.3-magnitude quake struck Christchurch at lunchtime on Tuesday.
Among them are 10 students from Toyama College of Foreign Languages who were in King’s Education College and are feared trapped.
Two South Korean students — a brother and a sister in their early 20s — are also missing and feared trapped in the same language school.
On its website King’s Education College said the largest number of its students came from the Philippines, Japan, South Korea, China and Thailand.