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Official death toll rises as search and rescue continues

12.45pm 25 February

Official death toll rises as search and rescue operation continues

As the search and rescue operation continued in Christchurch city last night the official death toll rose to 113.

Since early afternoon on Tuesday, February 22, there have been 70 people rescued alive.

Superintendent Dave Cliff said that the names of some victims had been published, and that Police were the only first official source of information about victim identities.

"Their names will be released only after the formal identification processes have been carried out and next of kin have been notified," he said.

"There is likely to be a large number of foreign nationals among the victims and this morning we have held another briefing with diplomatic representatives from several countries so that they are fully aware of the victim identification and coronial processes we are following."

Rain is forecast for this afternoon and this has the potential to further destabilise already dangerous unstable masonry and buildings.

The weather may also impact on the USAR operations around the city making it more dangerous for them to do their job.

"Rescue staff are operating in highly dangerous and volatile situations and we are continually reassessing the risks," Mr Cliff said.

Police are also reminding people to stay off the roads. Those providing essential services - including water supplies, diggers, drainlayers etc - are having great difficulty getting through congested traffic outside the cordoned areas.

"Sadly we are continuing to see some disorder around the wider city, with arrests overnight for burglaries, thefts and disorder type offences.

"We urge people to be vigilant, look out for your neighbours, and report any suspicious behaviour - we will follow up."

People can still call their local police stations or 111 to report crime. We will respond to these calls.

As many patrols as possible are being put out into the suburbs. If you have crime concerns please approach them for advice. We are grateful for the assistance of the Defence Force.

ENDS

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