No bodies found in collapsed cathedral tower

Anglican Taonga reports that no bodies were found in the rubble of the tower of the ChristChurch Cathedral that was destroyed in the recent earthquake.

Recovery teams have completed searching ChristChurch Cathedral and have found no bodies there.

Dean Peter Beck said this morning that he was speechless when given the news.

He had been called to the cathedral this morning at 1am, expecting to say prayers over bodies as they were recovered.

When told that there were in fact no bodies, he said he burst into tears.

“I thank God for this,” he said this morning. “But I still hold in my heart the many, many people who have been killed.

Superintendent Sandra Manderson told Morning Report that she was trying to find the origin of initial estimates that up to 22 people were in the tower vicinity when the earthquake struck. reports:

A rise in the official toll from the Christchurch earthquake has been tempered by news that no dead have been found in the ChristChurch Cathedral ruins.

Police announced this morning that the quake toll had increased by two to 165 overnight, following the recovery of two further bodies in the destroyed CTV building.

However, it was also revealed that no bodies were found in the damaged cathedral, in the heart of the city’s CBD, despite earlier suggestions there were 22 people inside when the church’s spire came crashing down.

The search was completed by urban search and rescue staff overnight and news that no bodies were found was met with tears of joy by the cathedral’s dean, Peter Beck.

Beck told RNZ that he had been phoned about 1am this morning and had been expecting to go into the cathedral to pray for the dead.

Police are now try to find the source of the original suggestion there were 22 people inside the cathedral when the 6.3 magnitude quake stuck on February 22. has a similar story here.

Meanwhile, the major insurer of church properties in New Zealand is expecting huge rebuilding claims and a corresponding increase in rates after two earthquakes hit Christchurch in 2010. Anglican Toanga says:

An insurance company that covers most of the churches in Christchurch expects damage to run into “hundreds of millions of dollars” and says restoring the shattered ChristChurch Cathedral could alone cost tens of millions.

Ansvar Insurance New Zealand manager David Leather said Christchurch churches would face increased insurance premiums after global reinsurers renewed annual treaties with retail insurers such as his company.

The global reinsurance industry’s perception of New Zealand’s earthquake risk would be influenced by the Christchurch event and Mr Leather expected reinsurers to “relook” at Wellington’s exposure to risk.

Damage to Christchurch churches in the September 4 earthquake was estimated at $100 million.

It was too early to put a figure on the likely cost of damage from last week’s earthquake but it was expected to be a lot higher, Mr Leather said.

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