Searchers in earthquake-devastated Christchurch said on Saturday they had found no bodies in the city's iconic cathedral and the death toll could be lower than initially feared.
Since the 6.3 magnitude earthquake on February 22, it had been reported that as many as 22 bodies were buried in the rubble of the 130-year-old cathedral, the centrepiece of New Zealand's second city.
"We have cleared the cathedral site and we found no bodies in the cathedral at all, so to us that's fantastic news," police superintendent Sandra Manderson told Radio New Zealand.
"Urban search and rescue have cleared the whole area, they've cleared the tower, they've cleared the church and they've cleared the immediate surrounding area all round the church, and they've found no bodies."
She said police were now trying to establish where the estimate of 22 people trapped in the cathedral had come from and the list of missing people was being reviewed. Read more