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Media update 28/2/11 8am

New Zealand Fire Service

Media update

28 February 8am

USAR

The enormous rescue effort to assess and search buildings in the central city, in the hopes of finding signs of life, continues. Rescue teams remain optimistic but are realistic that as time goes by it becomes less possible that they will find survivors.

There is still a focus on searching the PGG, CTV and Cathedral sites. Careful work is underway to remove rubble and shore up perilous areas to allow USAR teams to move through the collapsed buildings.

Today, there is likely to be more helicopter operations over the city, as part of the USAR building assessment process, particularly in buildings where stairwells have collapsed and safe internal access is uncertain.

At the Grand Chancellor building, work will shortly begin to shore up the building in line with a plan developed by USAR engineers. This will include pouring concrete to stabilize the building.

Teams searched most of the surrounding buildings yesterday.

Teams are continuing to comb the central business district block by block to clear buildings. Work is progressing well but it is a slow operation and it is important to take time to ensure safety. Where buildings are not seriously damaged, efforts will be made to ensure the building is secured after assessment, if possible.

Three USAR engineers are today assessing rock falls in the Sumner area to help guide fire and police.

FIRE

Overnight, firefighters responded to only a few minor events. The central city water mains are broken so there is no water for fire fighting. As a result, water tankers and fire appliances remain on constant standby at the main search sites. Water mains in other parts of the city are also broken and the public is urged to make fire safety a priority.

The Fire Service has drawn heavily on its new fleet of hazmat/command units with nine of the cutting edge vehicles now in place at various points within the cordon providing communications support for the Fire Service and other agencies involved with the emergency response.

Operation Reassurance is complete but the Fire Service is continuing to assist the public as required.

Thank you to contractors

We want to acknowledge and thank the many contractors that are providing tremendous support to the USAR teams offering wide range of vital help including operating heavy machinery, cranes, carting rubble, providing lighting and cameras.

ENDS

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