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I HAVE HORRIBLE NEWS ..YOUR MUM IS DEAD; FAMILY'S TEARS FOR TV HOST AS NEW ZEALAND QUAKE TOLL RISES.

Byline: Mark McGivern

A HEARTBROKEN brother and sister collapse in tears just seconds after being told their mum has died in the horror of the New Zealand earthquake.

Lizzy and Kent Manning had waited desperately for news outside the ruins of a Christchurch television building.

They had clung to the hope that their mum Donna, a TV presenter, was still alive beneath the smouldering rubble.

With tears pouring down her face, Lizzy, 18, insisted: "My mum is Superwoman, she'd do anything."

But at that very moment, a police official came over and told them: "I have some horrible news...' Inconsolable, 15-year-old Kent and his sister bowed their heads and wept as their father Jonathon rushed over to wrap them in his arms.

The family have become the face of the tragedy as, across the country, relatives were struggling to absorb the same, devastating news.

Burned

The TV building had been flattened in the earthquake - which measured 6.3 on the Richter scale - and fires burned throughout Tuesday night.

No signs of life were found by cameras or listening devices yesterday. And rescue efforts were halted after officials said the building was "not survivable".

Police commander Dave Lawry warned the building's tower was in danger of collapsing.

He added: "At a certain point, I'm not going to risk my staff searching for people who I believe have no chance of survivability. That's the end of it.

"My heart goes out to those families... knowing that some of their children have probably been killed in this incident."

It is not known exactly how many people were inside the building, but they included up to 10 Japanese students at a language school and 15 TV staff.

Canterbury TV chairman Nick Smith said staff who managed to get out described a scene that was "like out of a horror movie".

"They've lost a lot of friends, a lot of colleagues and a lot of lifelong relationships,' he added.

Officials say the death toll for the quake stands at 75 but emergency workers believe it could climb as high as 300 once the rubble is cleared.

It has been confirmed a Briton and an Irish citizen are among the victims.

Some 120 people were rescued overnight but hundreds remain unaccounted for as exhausted rescue workers continued to hunt for signs of life.

There are fears weakened buildings that are still standing - including the 27-floor Hotel Grand Chancellor - are also on the brink of collapse.

Police say there are bodies littering the streets as well as those trapped in cars and crushed under rubble.

Amid the devastation, there were remarkable stories of people being pulled from the rubble without a scratch more than 24 hours after the quake.

Ann Bodkin, who had been stuck in the twisted metal and concrete remains of the Pyne Gould Guinness building, was brought out and reunited with her husband yesterday morning.

As she was carried out, drizzle gave way to sunshine. Christchurch mayor Bob Parker said: "They got Ann out of the building and God turned on the lights."

It had originally been thought that she was the trapped Australian woman who phoned her children from the rubble of the building to say goodbye.

Ann Voss had been pinned under her desk on the third floor and, convinced she would die, she called her children on her mobile phone.

Fears then grew for her safety after her phone battery died but rescuers located her and pulled her out. She had broken ribs and cuts.

She told how she did not think she was going to make it out alive.

"I had a concrete block on my shoulder," she said, adding that there was also rubble pressing against her ribs. "I was having trouble breathing."

Mayor Parker also warned people to prepare for heartbreak as hopes of more rescues dwindled.

One construction manager described how his team used sledgehammers and chainsaws to cut into the Pyne Gould building from the roof, hacking down through the layers of crushed offices.

The team found horrific scenes of bodies crushed under concrete slabs. One seriously injured man died as he was talking to rescuers.

Another victim's leg was pinned by concrete. To save him, he was given drugs to deaden the pain and his leg amputated with a hacksaw.

Elsewhere in the city, there were reports that a baby was lifted from its dead mother's arms after the woman was struck by rubble from a collapsed building.

Mall worker Tom Brittenden said: "There was a lady outside we tried to free with a child. A big bit of concrete or brick had fallen on her."

Police have set up a cordon around the city centre following overnight looting.

And hundreds spent the night huddled in emergency centres amid warnings of more aftershocks.

Householders have also been told not to take showers or flush lavatories because the city's water supply, sewage works and gas lines had been destroyed.

It's predicted insurance losses could hit pounds 7.4billion, making the quake the costliest natural disaster since Hurricane Ike hit the US in 2008.

Earth turns to mud

BRITISH tourists told last night of their terror as the ground turned to mud and buildings collapsed in the earthquake.

Alec Allen was playing tennis when he said he heard a deep rumble, like thunder.

He added: "I looked at the court and all of this mud just seeped up through the ground. There was mud coming through the earth."

Another Brit, Barnaby Luck, said: "Everything started shaking - it was like someone had got hold of the building and was swinging it back and forwards."

Canadian Carole Young told how she and her husband Ross escaped as debris rained down while they were on a tour of Christchurch Cathedral.

She said: "The way it was all coming down as we fled...it reminded me of 9/11."

CAPTION(S):

CRUSHED: Rescuers search a mangled car for survivors GRIEF: Mayor Parker WRECKED: A train track buckled by the tremors. Left, Murray and Kelly James stand outside the remains of their home in Christchurch SAVED: Two men lift their arms in relief after they are pulled from the rubble of their collapsed office building yesterday RUBBLE: The Timeball building in Lyttelton, near Christchurch. It was one of the town's tourist attractions TEARS AMID THE RUBBLE: Kent and Lizzy Manning are comforted by their dad. Below, their mum Donna EXHAUSTED: Top, tired emergency workers in Christchurch at the collapsed TV building, above. The search for survivors was halted after rescuers could find no more signs of life
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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Geographic Code:8NEWZ
Date:Feb 24, 2011
Words:1095
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