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Friday, April 1, 2011

Inquest planned for 12 victims

Inquest planned for 12 victims

Last updated 05:00 02/04/2011
An inquest into the deaths of 12 people in the February 22 earthquake who have not been formally identified is likely next month, the chief coroner said yesterday.

Chief coroner Judge Neil MacLean last night met the families of the earthquake victims still to be identified.

Police had named 169 quake victims by last night, meaning 12 had still not been formally identified. All died in the CTV building.

MacLean said most of them were Chinese.

An inquest would be held in Christchurch in May, he said.

The inquest would focus on confirming the identity of the victims, MacLean said.

"We're hoping the number of those lost will go down, but we can't wait until another few weeks to find out. We need to start planning now.

"Our primary focus and priority is those 12 people and their families and giving them some closure."

There would "probably" be further inquests and he would "almost certainly" lead the first one next week.

Last night's meeting was held to provide families with the "worst-case scenario" – that their loved ones may never be identified.

Up to 70 friends, family and consulate staff were at the meeting and were allowed to ask questions.

"For me it was a worthwhile experience," he said.

"It's always very humbling to see the composure of grieving families.

"We saw it happen at Pike River and we see it again now."

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