NZealand PM declares state of emergency after quake

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Natasha Chaku

Melbourne, Feb 23 (PTI) New Zealand Prime Minister JohnKey today declared a national state of emergency confirmingthe death toll at 75 following the devastating earthquake thatled to massive buildings and property damage around thecountry''s second-largest city of Christchurch.

Around 55 bodies had been identified and there were afurther 20 unidentified bodies, media reports said.

Another 300 people were listed as missing, though not allof them would be trapped in buildings that were being searchedfor survivors.

Rescuers have had to amputate limbs to free survivorsfrom collapsed buildings after the quake, police said.

Superintendent Russell Gibson said bodies still litteredthe streets.

"There is incredible carnage right throughout the city,"Gibson was quoted by media reports here.

"There are bodies littering the streets, they are trappedin cars and crushed under rubble where they are clearlydeceased. Our focus has turned on the living."

Gibson said the number of trapped "could be another 100,it could easily be more than that", adding the toll wouldrise. "It will be significantly higher than that," he said.

More than 500 rescuers, including police and militarypersonnel, pulled between 20 and 30 people from the debrisovernight, toiling through the darkness, he added. Overall,120 people have been pulled alive from the rubble.

"It''s quite amazing, we have some people we''ve pulled outand they haven''t got so much as a scratch on them. We''ve hadother people where we''ve had to amputate limbs to get themout," Gibson said.

Rescue efforts focused on the CTV building in MadrasStreet and the Pyne Gould Guinness Building in CambridgeTerrace, both of which collapsed.

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