Crews continue to recover bodies entombed in the Christchurch quake wreckage as the first funeral for a victim, a baby, is set to be held.


The death toll of last Tuesday’s 6.3-magnitude earthquake rose to 148 on Monday, with at least 50 people still unaccounted for.

Police expect the number of dead to rise over 200.

Horrific injuries have hampered the identification of bodies lying in a makeshift morgue, with police only naming eight, including two babies, almost a week on from the quake.

“The situation is that the earthquake caused enormous forces,” Superintendent Dave Cliff told reporters.

“The CTV (Canterbury Television) building in particular also suffered from significant fires, so we do need to prepare ourselves for the fact that in some cases it may be that human remains are located but not complete bodies.

“That is an enormously sad thing for us and for the families involved.”

The wait for confirmation of the deceased is “the most agonising part” for loved ones, he said.

Two more quake victims were named on Monday – Natasha Hadfield, 38, and Owen Wright, 40, both from Christchurch.

Meanwhile, the first funeral for a quake victim will be held on Monday afternoon, when mourners gather to farewell five-month-old Baxtor Gowland, born in the wake of the initial big quake back in September.

An international search and rescue team of about 600 people have swept the entire CBD for signs of life, but hopes are dwindling since the last survivor was pulled from the wreckage five days ago.

Earth tremors continue to threaten the stability of damaged buildings – at least two measuring over 4-magnitude shook the city on Monday morning.

“The adrenaline fuelled response of last week we can expect to wain and there will be a bit of fatigue amongst our people out there in the field undertaking response operations, but our focus is undiminished,” national civil defence response controller John Hamilton said.

Warm and blustery weather conditions are expected to hit Christchurch on Monday, whipping up some 180,000 tonnes of silt on the streets, causing dust storms and potentially moving already damaged buildings, Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker said.

Falling rocks have prompted police to evacuate homes and close roads around the coast. Some 55,000 homes are still without water and 15 per cent of dwellings have no power.

The police made a couple of arrests on Sunday night – one person impersonating a rescue worker tried to break through a police tape carrying knives, a baton and an axe while another attempted to enter the cordoned off area.