Twenty-six Japanese studying in New Zealand may have died when the Christchurch building housing their language school collapsed in New Zealand’s deadliest earthquake in 80 years, according to local police.
As the death toll from the 6.3-magnitude quake climbed to at least 98, police said 47 bodies were recovered from the rubble of the Canterbury Television building where the King’s Education school was located, adding it’s unlikely more survivors will be found. Police haven’t disclosed the nationalities of those victims.
About 550 rescuers and 12 dogs will be working in New Zealand’s second-largest city by the end of today, said Iona Wassilieff, a spokeswoman for the Civil Defence department. Japan sent a team of 70, who are working with Australian rescuers, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano told reporters today.
Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan yesterday asked his New Zealand counterpart John Key to “keep up the relief efforts until the very end” to find the missing Japanese, Edano said.
There are 226 people unaccounted for in Christchurch, New Zealand Police Minister Judith Collins told reporters today. As many as 120 bodies may be recovered from the Canterbury Television site, she said.
King’s Education confirmed there have been fatalities and said 72 students remain missing, without giving details in a statement on its website.
Twenty-one Chinese students are missing, with eight believed buried under the Canterbury Television building, China Central Television reported.
The 26 missing Japanese students include 10 from a language school in Toyama who arrived in Christchurch for a one-month study program five days before the quake hit, according to Kazushi Maeda, a spokesman for the port city on Japan’s western coast.
Christchurch residents are bracing for more aftershocks threatening to topple buildings already weakened by Tuesday’s quake and 38 aftershocks.