Mayor's thoughts with families on 'terrible' day
6:04 PM Thursday Mar 3, 2011
The thoughts of everyone should be with the families of the Christchurch earthquake victims following the change in the search focus today to recovering bodies, said an emotional mayor Bob Parker this afternoon.
"I imagine there could not be a harder moment in their lives," Mr Parker said today after Civil Defence decided that there could be no chance of survivors from the magnitude 6.3 quake nine days ago, outside a miracle.
Civil Defence Emergency Management national controller John Hamilton said this afternoon that the focus of the search had changed from rescue to recovery.
Mr Parker repeated the words "transition from rescue to recovery".
"Those were the words that nobody in this city, none of the families, none of the friends here and overseas - I would imagine nobody anywhere - wanted to hear.
"So for us as a community it is a sad day. We will continue to hold out that as this transitions through to recovery, there is still a miracle out there.
"But I echo the words that we have already heard that... we are perhaps holding out hope against all hope."
The quake has claimed 161 lives with an expected final toll of 220.
Up to 100 of the victims could be from as many as 20 countries. The Canterbury TV building, which collapsed spectacularly, contained dozens of foreign language students at the private training school King's Education.
There would be no lessening of effort to find people who were missing, Mr Parker said.
"I think we have always said that it is our goal to reunite everybody who is currently missing with their families and that is a very powerful goal for all the people who are involved... in the efforts inside the central business district. That doesn't change.
"The reality is that a decision has had to be made - it is part of being honest and open and giving clarity to the situation that we're in."
Mr Parker said people's thoughts should be with the families of the missing today.
"I want everybody to know that as a city we stand behind the families, both from Christchurch and... overseas that are here now and I believe will be joining us in the days ahead, we will do all we can to support you.
"It is a terrible day, it has been a tragic event and it has been something that none of us ever wanted or wished or even believed could happen in our city, so our thoughts, our hearts, our city, is with each and everyone of you.
"The people from overseas, who came here to study, those young people, they are still our children, and the visitors who came here to relax and enjoy this country, they are still our guests.
"And until we have accounted for each of them, and treated them with all the dignity and in the most appropriate way possible, there will be no lessening of effort at all."