Forsyth Barr search ends with no bodies found

11:45 am on 10 March 2011

The search of the 17-storey Forsyth Barr building in central Christchurch has ended, having found no bodies.

The search was undertaken by specialist crews from the United States who will now return home.

Russell Wood from the Urban Search and Rescue team says the search of the building was very difficult. The stairwell had largely collapsed, and each set of stairs, weighing four tonnes, had to be removed.

Meanwhile, search and rescue teams are continuing the slow task of clearing the central business district.

Owners, residents allowed back

Residents and business owners in parts of the city centre will be allowed inside the cordon on Thursday.

The lifting of the restriction, in what is known as zone three, applies to properties south of most of Bealey Avenue and north of the red zone.

Civil Defence says affected residents, businesses and property owners do not have to register to enter the cordon, but they must bring proof of ownership or residence.

An information centre at the old Christchurch Women's Hospital will provide people with welfare assistance and professional advice.

Zone three will open on Friday to the public, but Civil Defence says people should venture into the area only if it is essential.