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First Christchurch Earthquake victims identified

MEDIA RELEASE
1845hrs 24 February 2011


First earthquake victims identified

Police have released the names of the first four confirmed victims of the Christchurch earthquake on Tuesday 22 February.

They are:

Joseph Tehau Pohio, age 40, of Christchurch
Jaime Robert McDowell Gilbert, age 22, of Christchurch
Jayden Harris, aged 9 months, of Christchurch
Baxter Gowland, aged 5 months of Christchurch

Update: Corrected Spelling of Christchurch Earthquake Victim's Name

No other names of deceased or missing persons are able to be released at the present time.

Superintendent Dave Cliff said in these four cases the process had reached the threshold of identification which includes a statement from the next of kin.

Police had been working as hard as possible on carrying out a Disaster Victim Identification (DVI) process on bodies which have been located.

Superintendent Dave Cliff said Police had been working as hard as possible on carrying out a Disaster Victim Identification (DVI) process on bodies which have been located.

"At present we have a total of 98 bodies," Supt Cliff said. "Identification of the remainder of these will be a long and complex process. In most cases, visual identification of these bodies is proving to be extremely difficult.

"We have a large team working through the list of those who have been reported missing by loved ones. At this stage we can confirm that we have 226 people listed as missing. Because of our inquiries and the likelihood that these missing people are believed to be in the most severely affected areas of Christchurch we hold serious concerns that they have not survived.

"This number may well grow higher, as there may be overseas nationals who have not been reported missing.

"We have been in touch with all the families of those reported missing, and the Police Family Liaison team have been briefing families this afternoon on all the information available to date. We will continue to provide information and support to the families."

The majority of the 98 confirmed deceased are expected to be included within the 226 missing, Supt Cliff said.

"We have been in discussion with the chief Coroner and have assessed the risks around releasing the names of the missing. As a result the Coroner is firm that we must continue with our process to ensure absolute certainty around identity."

"My plea is that if anyone has reported someone missing, and that person is now safe and well, or if a person knows they have been reported missing, please contact the Red Cross as soon as possible on 0800 733276."

Update: Corrected Spelling of Christchurch Earthquake Victim's Name

Ends

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