thousands left city'
Ravit Avraham, Israeli residing in New Zealand describes post-quake catastrophe, unimaginable destruction as death toll rises to 113, with 300 still missing. Tanks block city center as more rescue teams arrive
The official death toll continues to climb, currently standing at 113, and officials said rescue teams had pulled nothing but bodies from the rubble of collapsed buildings for 48 hours. About 300 people are still considered missing.
Avraham is in constant contact with Israeli tourists in New Zealand, and even accommodated two Israelis when the earthquake hit. According to her, authorities continue to search for missing people.
"The city center is blocked off by tanks, which we never see in New Zealand. Professional rescue teams are here from the United States, Canada, Japan and Taiwan, and another team from Britain is expected to arrive. There are a lot of people who wish to come search for their missing relatives, but the entrance is closed out of fear they'll get hurt or disturb the search and rescue teams," she added.
Avraham said the teams are still looking for survivors. "They're listening for voices. They'll evacuate the bodies later," she said. "Many neighborhoods are flooded. Bridges have collapsed and roads have split open. About 80% of the residents don't have water."
According to Avraham, many residents decided to flee the city. "Half of them don't have electricity, telephones, internet or any contact with the outer world. Thousands have left the city. At least 1,000 homes have been ruined and many other houses cannot be lived in for fear they will collapse.