Death toll rises after quake
Christchurch, New Zealand (CNN) — The death toll from the 6.3-magnitude earthquake that struck Christchurch earlier this week rose today, with at least 98 confirmed deaths and 226 reported missing, police said.
Police Superintendent Dave Cliff told reporters he had “grave fears” for the missing and authorities were having difficulty identifying victims because of the condition the bodies they were found.
The somber announcement came as authorities continued more house-to-house searches in a desperate hunt for survivors.
The quake struck Tuesday, toppling buildings, buckling streets and ripping the facades of iconic churches, including the Christchurch Cathedral and the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament..
A series of aftershocks followed.
Officials said they had given up hope of rescuing at least 100 people who were trapped in the Canterbury TV building in downtown Christchurch. Police said they were “100 per cent certain” no one in the building was still alive.
Authorities fear that trapped occupants in another building, the Pyne Gould Corporation Building, are also dead.
Of those missing were 27 Japanese students, Japan’s foreign ministry said. Most of them were students at language schools, and five were on personal study trips.