Less hope for Survivors in NZ earthquake

Melbourne: Rescue workers in New Zealand refused to give up on the hope of finding miracle survivors, frantically searching through the debris in Christchurch where the death toll in the 6.5 temblor went up to 76 and chances of finding people alive kept receding.

New Zealand Police Minister Judith Collins said that there were 76 bodies in the morgue but "more are coming through".

Police said 238 were missing after the earthquake hit the city. A further 164 people have been hospitalised with injuries ranging from major crash, head and neck and spinal trauma, and broken bones.

Rescue crews, however, refused to give up on finding "miracle" survivors even as their efforts were tempered by the grim business of extracting bodies.

Search and rescue teams from New South Wales are in charge of the Pyne Gould Corporation building, which, along with the Canterbury TV building, is one of the worst affected.

"We won`t give up… We have had instances all over the world where you have the miracle, someone who is found two, three days later," operations officer David Lewis was quoted as saying by latest media reports.

As aftershocks continue to rock the city, New Zealand Prime Minister John Key, who declared a state of national emergency yesterday, conceded it would take a miracle to find more survivors.

To add to the city`s woes, it may be without running water for months amid fears sewerage has seeped into cracks in water-supply pipes.

Forensic identification experts worked with search and rescue teams to retrieve newly discovered victims at both scenes. Emergency authorities were relayed a text message believed to have originated from inside the CTV building.

The search for survivors has broadened as many of the inner-city buildings failed to yield any of those trapped.

Lewis said the search would continue until there was no hope left. "We just keep going with the fact that we will find someone… Until such time as we know we have checked all the areas, we will keep going," he said.

Lewis estimated they had searched about 60 per cent of the building where it was possible to gain access.

At the CTV building, where as many as 48 foreign language students are feared buried, including many Japanese nationals, the rescue effort has been bolstered by the arrival of Japan`s disaster relief team. Police had earlier described the CTV building as not survivable.

With the death toll expected to rise, Key urged people to be realistic about the prospect of finding survivors after the country`s deadliest natural disaster in 80 years.

"That does not mean that there can`t and won`t be people trapped in buildings," said Key, who had described the disaster as possibly New Zealand`s darkest day.