Newspaper article Fraser Coast Chronicle (Hervey Bay, Australia)

Rescuers Feel the Toll; Devastated Search Crews Are Forced to Abandon Entombed Earthquake Victims

Newspaper article Fraser Coast Chronicle (Hervey Bay, Australia)

Rescuers Feel the Toll; Devastated Search Crews Are Forced to Abandon Entombed Earthquake Victims

Article excerpt

Byline: AMY COOPES of AFP

DEVASTATED rescue workers had to be dragged away from the wreckage of Christchurch's CTV building, unable to stop thinking of the entombed earthquake victims they were leaving behind.

C[pounds sterling]It's not a matter of just walking away from a worksite, they were touching bodies,C[yen] said police commander Dave Cliff, describing how searchers refused to leave the site when they were told there was no chance of finding anyone alive.

C[pounds sterling]This is deeply emotional for those people working on this. They do it because they have an absolute desire to help people, to find people to rescue.C[yen]

About 700 rescue workers have been sifting steel and concrete wreckage in central Christchurch, New Zealand's second-biggest city, which was hammered on Tuesday by the shallow, 6.3-magnitude earthquake. They have come from all parts of the world to help in the increasingly bleak hunt for survivors, with fears mounting that all 228 people still missing are dead.

But many are local men and women who have been directly affected by the earthquake, leaving their lives in turmoil as they pursue their grim task.

C[pounds sterling]The first thing they all talk about is what happened in that first 12 hours, the trauma, trying to get people out from under the rubble,C[yen] said Greg O'Connor, president of New Zealand's police association.

C[pounds sterling]And then when you actually talk to the local staff a little further they start talking about what the impact has been on them and their own families.C[yen]

No sign of life has been detected anywhere in the city since Wednesday, but Mount Cook rescue volunteer Charlie Hobbs is holding out hope of a miraculous rescue.

C[pounds sterling]You have to. I'm an eternal optimist,C[yen] he said from the rubble of the city's cathedral, where up to 22 people are believed to be buried. …

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