New Zealand police: 'it remains a rescue operation'

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New Zealand police: 'it remains a rescue operation'

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The official death toll from the earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand has risen to 98.

There are fears in New Zealand that many more bodies will be dragged lifeless from the rubble in the coming days.

Yesterday there had been applause as a survivor was brought out. But hopes are beginning to fade of finding others alive, more than two days after the 6.3 magnitude quake.

Japanese specialists have joined other foreign teams and plenty of volunteers on the ground, to search for about 200 people still missing.

Meanwhile, across the city the race is on to restore water and power supplies.

“Yesterday we had about 65 percent of the customers back on. Tonight, we’re aiming to have 75 percent of the customers back on,” said local power executive Roger Sutton. “Compared to the September 4th event (last year’s earthquake), it’s a much, much larger event for us. We’ve a lot more damage.”

The army’s presence – to keep order and keep people away from unstable areas – may be reassuring. It is also a reminder of the gravity of the situation.

The authorities say they are still involved in a rescue operation, but a fire chief said they had no signs of life.

For others, life is anything but normal as they struggle to cope with collapsed and unsafe buildings, broken roads and flooded sewers.