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Rescue Efforts Continue in New Zealand As Death Toll Rises

Source: CNN, WSJ

Posted on 23 Feb 2011

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The search for survivors by rescue teams in New Zealand continues after a powerful earthquake rocked downtown Christchurch, killing scores of people, toppling buildings and leaving others trapped beneath piles of concrete.

At least 75 people have died, 55 of whom have been identified, according to Prime Minister John Key. Hundreds are still missing, Key told reporters at a press conference Wednesday afternoon. Key also told reporters that he will urge the nation's parliament to declare a state of emergency for all of New Zealand.

Police here enforced a curfew Wednesday night as rescuers continued searching the rubble of earthquake-destroyed buildings for the 300 people authorities say remain unaccounted for.

Throughout the day, emergency services battled to free survivors from the wreckage as aftershocks from Tuesday's quake continued to rattle nerves. A cordon was placed around the city's tallest tower, the 26-story Grand Chancellor Hotel, after one side of the building fell away, leaving previously vertical windows at a 45-degree tilt. At one point, after engineers estimated the unstable building had moved three meters in the space of 10 minutes, rescue work was halted and the area cleared.