CTV rescue stats questioned
Mon, 29 Oct 2012 6:10p.m.
By Jeff Hampton
The number of foreigners known to be alive but not rescued in the CTV building after it collapsed in last year's February earthquake has risen from six to eight.
This was revealed at a coroner's inquest examining the response of emergency services to the collapse.
The family of foreign language student Rika Hyuga has come from Japan to hear what happened the day their daughter died in the CTV building. They sat in a side room with their translators and other families watching the live stream video as evidence unfolded.
“Some evidence will be very traumatic to hear,” says counsel assisting Coronial Services Richard Raymond. “[This is] not about finger pointing or blame.”
The coroner saw video of the CTV building while rescues continued, some of it supplied by 3 News, whose crews were based just a few minutes walk from the site.
Footage shows some of the building's occupants being rescued. Others survived the initial collapse but died before being pulled from the building wreckage.
This inquest is now focussing on eight of them – foreign nationals from Serbia, the Philippines, Japan and now China.
Sergeant Mike Brooklands was the top-ranking officer there. His radio calls for help were played.
Inspector John Price told the court that police staff were quickly at the scene but believed the fire service were in charge because of the type of skills needed there.
“I am satisfied the police were doing a good job down there,” says Mr Price.
He agreed it would have been better to have a more senior officer on site than a sergeant who stayed there 15 hours, but said none could be spared.
“In hindsight, Sgt Brooklands should have been relieved,” he says.
Nigel Hampton QC represents Alec Cvetanova, whose wife, a doctor, died in the building. She made cell phone calls while trapped in the debris.
He questioned why the police list of those who initially survived the collapse but died before rescue didn't include a Chinese national and Filipino woman.
“How is it that these two victims only came to light in the last couple of weeks?” asks Mr Hampton.
The inquest is expected to take three weeks. Tomorrow the coroner will hear evidence from a police officer who analysed phone calls made from those who were trapped then died in the building.
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