Search widens to rescue survivors of New Zealand quake | world | Hindustan Times
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Search widens to rescue survivors of New Zealand quake

world Updated: Feb 23, 2011 19:10 IST

Rescuers in New Zealand on Wednesday widened their search for surviors still trapped in the crumbled buildings more than 24 hours after the worst-ever earthquake hit the country's second-largest city Christchurch, even as the death toll mounted to 75.

Prime Minister John Key declared a national emergency and announced that at least 75 people have died and around 300 people are still missing in the country's worst natural disaster in 80 years.

Police have announced a night-time curfew in parts of Christchurch. The city's superintendent did not say what time the curfew would be lifted.

Officials have urged the city's 350,000 residents to stay home unless absolutely necessary during the initial stage of the emergency. Rescuers have managed to free some of those trapped in collapsed buildings.

Any hope of finding survivors at the six-storey Canterbury Television building, in which foreign students were thought to have been killed, was abandoned.

"This particular site, CTV site, had a number of overseas students in it and my heart goes out to those families that are away knowing that some of their children, family have probably been killed in this incident," police operations commander Dave Lawry said.

"The situation is that we don't believe this site is now survivable," he added.

Lawry said the building, which housed the King's Education College English language school on its third floor, was deteriorating and there were fears it could collapse further, endangering rescuers.

New Zealand media is reporting that 24 people have been pulled from the rubble of the CTV building, but seven people had died inside and at least 22 others were listed as missing.

The search for survivors will be widened after NSW and Queensland search and rescue officials arrive on the ground in Christchurch.

A no-fly-zone was imposed over the CBD to enable rescuers to hear the cries of the injured.

About 300 Australian police personnel have been deployed to Christchurch, some to help with disaster identification. A further 750 urban search and rescue workers from New Zealand and around the world, including Australia, will be on the ground in the city by Thursday.