Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 26 November 2014

Rescuers search rubble for Irishman

Rescue workers climb on to the collapsed Pyne Gould Guinness building in central Christchurch (AP)
Rescue workers climb on to the collapsed Pyne Gould Guinness building in central Christchurch (AP)

Rescue workers are continuing the painstaking search for an Irishman trapped in a building destroyed in the New Zealand earthquake.

JJ O'Connor, who is married with children, is an accountant in the Pyne Gould Guinness (PGG) Building in Christchurch.

The 40-year-old comes from Abbeydorney in Co Kerry, where it is understood his mother and siblings still live.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Irish diplomats on the ground have spoken to family and emergency workers and are certain he was in the building when the powerful 6.3 quake hit on Tuesday.

Police have said the death toll in the New Zealand earthquake has risen to 113, with more than 200 missing. No survivors have been found since Wednesday afternoon.

Meanwhile, the family of a Monaghan man crushed to death in his car are preparing to fly his body home.

Psychiatric nurse Eoin McKenna, who had been living in the country for about six years, is among those confirmed dead.

And a chef was among two Britons killed in the earthquake. Gregory Tobin, 25, from Tadcaster, North Yorkshire, died when the quake tore apart Christchurch on the South Island earlier this week.

DFA initially had reports of concerns over 300 Irish citizens in New Zealand after the quake struck.

That has been whittled down to 17 people, but the majority were people who have lost contact with distant friends and family and foreign affairs chiefs have no serious concerns for any of these.

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