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CTV building "unsurvivable", say police
February 23, 2011, 5:20 pm
Police are "100 percent sure" there are no survivors in the earthquake-damaged Canterbury TV building in Christchurch, rescue operations head, Inspector Dave Lawry said this afternoon.
The search for bodies in the building has been called off and search and rescue staff had been shifted to sites were police still believed there were survivors, Mr Lawry said.
Police have not said how many people they believe have perished, but media reports have varied between 20 up to 50 people as missing from the building.
Mr Lawry said police were 100 percent sure the building was unsurvivable.
"The sad fact is that we have moved the resources we have got from this site to other sites we there is higher probability of life survivability".
"At the end of the day we have to make that choice, it's a hard choice and my heart goes out to all the families especially those overseas people who have come to our country".
Several Japanese students are believed to be among those who have died in the building collapse.
He said staff at the site had been under threat from a number of sources, including continuing aftershocks and the threat from fire, which was continuing to rage to the point where the building's pillar was "so weakened we believe it could collapse on our staff."
There were also significant risks to rescue workers from both the Tower building, on Montreal Street, and Christchurch's tallest building, the Hotel Grand Chancellor on Cashel Street, which were both at risk of collapsing, he said.
People had been told to move four blocks from the 26-storey Hotel Grand Chancellor, which was leaning on to another building, he said.
Reports said the hotel had slumped in one corner, prompting fears that should it collapse it could destroy surrounding buildings.
"The advice I have been given is the first floor would collapse down, it would twist and then it fall, possibly as far as Manchester Street, possibly collapsing buildings in front of it," Mr Lawry said.
The hotel is a Christchurch landmark and with all of its rooms located on the 15th floor and above, it offered panoramic views of the city and surrounds.
A magnitude 6.3 earthquake struck Christchurch yesterday at 12.51pm. There have been numerous strong aftershocks since. At least 75 people have died, with the toll expected to rise.
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