Christchurch earthquake: Prayers for missing students

Rhea Mae Sumalpong. Photo / Supplied
Rhea Mae Sumalpong. Photo / Supplied

Families and relatives of 27 Japanese students thought to be buried beneath the flattened CTV building are praying for a miracle.

Nearly 40 family and teachers of the missing have come from Japan in the hope that the next one pulled out from the rubble will be alive, and that it'll be their son, daughter or student.

So far, more than 50 bodies have been removed from the site.

"None of the bodies have been identified, so we don't know who is still missing and whose bodies have been recovered," said Hachiro Ishida, the Japanese consul-general.

"But the families are still hoping against hope for a miracle, that their loved one is not among the dead."

Nurse Rhea Mae Sumalpong, who sent a desperate plea for help to her mother in Australia, has not made it out of the rubble.

The 25-year-old Filipina is believed to have died, said the Philippines consulate.

"Ma, we're trapped at CTV building. We need help, please rescue us," she said in her text to her mother half an hour after the earthquake.

Consul-General Emilie Shi said the mother, Marlene Sumalpong, was in Christchurch waiting in anguish for news of her daughter. At least eight other nurses from the Philippines are believed to be in the rubble.

China's Foreign Ministry says 20 of its students are missing.

Yesterday, a team of 10 specialist Chinese rescue workers arrived in Christchurch. Chinese state television said on its website that a number of Chinese students are believed to have been in the CTV building.

- NZ Herald

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