25 Feb 2011

Quake toll now more than 100

9:00 am on 25 February 2011

The official death toll from Tuesday's devastating earthquake in Christchurch is now more than 100.

Five deaths were added to the total overnight.

The police say they have serious concerns for about another two hundred people who remain unaccounted for.

New Zealand's Prime Minister, John Key, says it is hard to put a definite number on those still missing.

But he has been told there could be up to 65 people in the language school in the collapsed Canterbury Television building.

"We can't be 100 percent sure again. One of the challenges of these sorts of things is you don't know the starting point but we've got every reason to be very, very concerned that number could be in that magnitude of 60-65."

John Key says some people from overseas may not be on the official list of the missing.

The number of people rescued from search operations since Tuesday's earthquake stands at 70.

New Zealand's Civil Defence Minister, John Carter, this morning spoke from the Civil Defence bunker at Parliament.

He detailed the latest injury figures available on the tragedy.

The number of people seen at the emergency department since the earthquake are 594, of which 164 have been admitted to hospital. The Australian field hospital is now being set up and we expect that to be operational by lunch time.

Mr Carter also praised rescue workers as heroes.

He says today's search in the central city will be extended to areas that have not yet been cleared by rescue workers.

They are now going into places such as alleyways where people would have been coming back and forward from work to go to lunch where they suspect that there maybe people under the rubble, the facades that have fallen, that maybe dead, and so they are now able to go in and look in those areas as well.

The police say search and rescue workers will not give up hope that there may be survivors under the rubble in buildings being searched.

Superintendent Russell Gibson explains.

We don't know there are no survivors and I don't want to give people unnecessary

hope, but until we have removed every single brick from each of these buildings there is a possibility of a miracle there.

Superintendent Russell Gibson says the police are still trying to establish how many foreign nationals are still missing.

Ten international search rescue teams are now on the ground, including a team from China.

A team from the United States is due to arrive later today.

The final members of a team of search and rescue specialists from Britain will arrive in Christchurch later this morning.

An advance party landed yesterday afternoon.

Meanwhile, about fifty percent of households in Christchurch now have mains water but people are still being asked to be careful about how they use it.

And about 75 percent of Christchurch now has power, but it may be more than a month before some residents are on line again.