Death toll rises as Chistchurch Airport opens

By Doug Newhouse |

Christchurch Airport has reopened to both domestic and international traffic today, following yesterday’s terrible earthquake which left part of Christchurch in ruins and where the death toll has now risen to 75.

The airport’s website confirmed this morning (European time) that both arriving and departing flights are operating, although passengers are still being advised to check with their airline to confirm their service is operational.

Christchurch Airport – which is located 12 kilometres northwest of the city centre – was closed temporarily after the earthquake struck and the fact that is now open will greatly assist aid efforts from other parts of New Zealand and many foreign countries who have pledged to provide assistance.

Meanwhile, Christchurch-born Prime Minister John Key has declared a national state of emergency at the same time that an estimated 300 people are still missing.

In a state-of-the-nation speech to those impacted in Christchurch, he said: “The world is with us. Our Australian neighbours, our British and American friends, the great countries of this world, all are putting their shoulder to your wheel. They are sending their support, their expertise, their people to help us. Christchurch, today is the day your great comeback begins. Though your buildings are broken, your streets awash, and your hearts are aching, your great spirit will overcome.”

Key also paid tribute to the to the hundreds of search and rescue workers, emergency personnel, medical professionals and others who have worked tirelessly to rescue and tend to victims.

Key added: “Though lost lives will never be replaced, and though your city will never look the same again, you will rebuild your city, you will rebuild your lives, you will overcome. We have seen many cities in the world come back from disasters on this scale, and Christchurch will be no exception. I know that all New Zealanders stand ready to help.”

Key confirmed that to date the New Zealand Government has accepted offers of assistance from Australia, the United States, Singapore, the United Kingdom, Japan and Taiwan. He also confirmed that some of the victims are foreign visitors, with 55 of the 75 victims identified so far.



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