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I called my kids to say goodbye, says mum trapped in rubble

ANN Voss spent the night under her desk in a collapsed office building in Christchurch, concentrating on staying alive while she waited for rescue.

Ms Voss, and at least 300 others, were trapped under the rubble. Terrified and bleeding, she could do nothing but wait. Last night the emergency services were still trying to locate her.

"I rang my kids to say goodbye," Ms Voss told New Zealand's TV3 channel. "I know I am bleeding and I can feel the ground is quite wet. I think it's blood. I'm not going to give up."

Rescuers were forced to amputate limbs from other victims because they were unable to lift and remove masonry.

The official death toll was put at 38 but there are fears it could reach 300. Scores of people remained trapped, including those in the Pyne Gould Guinness Building, a multi-storey building containing more than 200 workers. The floors of the collapsed building are pancaked onto each other.

Elsewhere, an office block believed to have about 100 workers inside, burnt out of control; and nearby, even as one woman was rescued, workers said they feared another four colleagues were trapped under concrete on one of the building's lower floors.

Christchurch rescuers were overwhelmed with the task of pulling victims from beneath tonnes of masonry and debris. By this morning at least 250 specialist crews from overseas will be digging through the ruins.

For some, the overseas help is too late. One woman ran out of the Cashel Street Mall clutching her baby but the building collapsed on top of them. Tom Brittenden, a local resident, said he and others rushed to the mall but the woman was already dead. Her baby was taken alive from her arms.

By nightfall about 120 people had been pulled out alive.

Irish Independent