NZ rescuers pull out more dead from debris, toll up to 113

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Natasha ChakuMelbourne, Feb 25 (PTI) Rescuers pulled out morebodies from the debris in their grim search for the missing ina quake-devastated Christchurch where death toll mounted to113, and incidents of theft and looting were also reported.

Rescue work was in full swing for the 228 missingpeople in Tuesday''s 6.5 magnitude earthquake that shook theNew Zealand city and brought down many buildings.

There were little signs of life as rescue workerssifted through the rubble, and found more and more dead bodiestaking the toll to 113.

"These are very, very dark days for New Zealand,"Prime Minister John Key said as hopes for finding moresurvivors faded with time.

"We need a bit a bit of luck to try and find a fewpeople that may still have survived this earthquake and arestill trapped in those buildings," he told Radio New Zealand.

Latest reports from the scene said that people wereallegedly posing as officials, stealing and looting in thequake-struck Christchurch, amidst the tragedy.

Police said crime was becoming an increasing problemfor authorities on the ground.

Around 300 Australian police officers are workingacross the city and trying to bring the rising rates of theftand domestic violence under control and Australians could beamong the arrested.

Reports said that at least two Australian nationalshave been presenting themselves to the fire service as bothsearch and rescue staff and disaster victim identificationpersonnel.

Canterbury Police nightshift supervisor Russell Gibsonsaid such opportunists were the "lowest of the low".

"We''ve had more and more reports of people with pseudoprofessional clothing, clipboards, vests and hard hats goingdoor to door asking about appliances inside," the officersaid.

"When they''ve been approached they haven''t passedmuster and they''ve disappeared. I can only surmise that thosepeople are there with dishonourable intentions. Whether it wasjust ghoulish curiosity or an elaborate theft plan I don''tknow," he said.

He also urged locals to demand to see identification,saying "For goodness sake, check who they are, who they''reworking for and why they''re there".

He said looting in vacant homes was becoming asignificant problem, with a few arrests made and many more tocome.

Gibson also expressed apprehension that suicides mayrise too in the aftermath of the calamity.

"We haven''t seen that yet. We really hope Christchurchresidents don''t let it get that bad," he said. .

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