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Thursday, March 3, 2011

Toll on buses still unknown after Christchurch earthquake

Toll on buses still unknown after Christchurch earthquake

KEITH LYNCH
Last updated 05:00 01/03/2011
 
 
It is not yet known how many people died on the buses that remain on the corner of Colombo and Tuam streets in central Christchurch.

Suzzane Craig, 36, of Redcliffs, still does not know where husband Phil Coppeard is.

She last saw him before he boarded the No3 bus outside the New World supermarket in Redcliffs.

Its wreckage sits near Christ Church Cathedral in Colombo St.

One person confirmed dead by police, Andrew Christian Ross Craig, was believed to have been driving the bus.
Steve Pook, the services manager of the Armstrong Motor Group in St Asaph St, and his colleagues were among those who dashed to Colombo St after the quake.

"We were told there was a mess on Colombo St. The place was thrashed." he said.

"Myself and a number of technicians here grabbed crowbars and wrenches and ran on to Colombo St."

The group spotted two buses in Colombo St.

"When we got there, there was a good 10 to 14 of us."

Pook said some passengers had been crushed by falling debris.

"We were concentrating on those still making a noise and alive. We managed to get a young guy out of the bus. We pulled him out of some side windows," Pook said.

"He suffered terrible facial injuries. If he wasn't gone, he wasn't far from it. I've got a feeling he didn't make it."

They dragged the man into the back of a car, where a nurse worked to save his life.

Rescuers managed to get another woman out, Pook said.

The woman was likely to be Ann Brower, a Lincoln University lecturer who suffered a broken leg and severed hand tendons.

"It was all so quick. They patched her up inside and once she was out she was straight into the car and gone," Pook said.

Phil Cooper was in Gasson St when the quake rattled his new business, Simply Better Signs.

As his wife was in town, he rushed towards Colombo St, finding the two buses at Tuam St.

"People were in a daze. Three or four guys had jumped up on to the buses trying to get people out. We were trying to pull open the window."

He saw three people come out alive.

Cooper said at least three people died in one bus – an elderly man, a woman and a young man.

"There were three people that had passed away. Those images are burnt on my mind," he said.

- The Press

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