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Family of man buried in rubble awaiting grim news

THE family of an Irishman believed to be buried underneath the rubble of the earthquake in New Zealand is still awaiting confirmation that he is dead.

JJ O'Connor (40) has been missing since last Tuesday when the PGG building in which he worked as an accountant collapsed in the earthquake that devastated Christchurch.

Yesterday, his uncle, Denis O'Connor, said there was "nothing new to report" since they were told on Friday morning that the chances of finding survivors in the rubble were diminishing.

Mr O'Connor is originally from Lisereen, Abbeydorney, in Co Kerry.

The family has been in constant contact with his New Zealand-born wife Sarah, who is expecting their second child in May. The couple have a two-year-old boy, Dan.

They had been due to come to Ireland in July for his brother Don's wedding.

They moved to New Zealand last year and had lived in London before that.


Mr O'Connor, the oldest in a family of three boys and two girls, had emigrated after completing his accountancy studies in Cork.

His mother Sheila, who still lives in Abbeydorney, was in England visiting a daughter when the quake tragedy unfolded.

The family has appealed for privacy.

Mr O'Connor's father Donal died a number of years ago at a young age through illness.

His mother also lost her two brothers in recent years. One died of illness and the other died in a choking accident while abroad on holiday.

Meanwhile, the family of Owen McKenna (40) and hundreds of neighbours attended a special Mass celebrated in his memory over the weekend in Carrickroe, Co Monaghan.

His wife Sarah is facing the grim task of identifying his body to officials in Christchurch before it can be brought home for burial.

Mr McKenna was originally from Brackagh, Emyvale, Co Monaghan. The psychiatric nurse and father of two was heavily involved in the local community before he moved to New Zealand seven years ago after marrying Sarah.

Irish Independent