Lincoln Tan

Lincoln Tan is the New Zealand Herald’s diversity, ethnic affairs and immigration senior reporter.

Christchurch earthquake: Chinese grieve for those lost amid rubble

Up to 24 Chinese are still missing, presumed dead. Most are thought to have been language students in the CTV building. Photo / Geoff Sloan
Up to 24 Chinese are still missing, presumed dead. Most are thought to have been language students in the CTV building. Photo / Geoff Sloan

The faces of Chinese students missing since the earthquake have been posted online in a desperate attempt to get information about them.

The missing - most thought to have been language students in the CTV building - have prompted an outpouring of grief among New Zealand's Chinese population.

The release of the list highlights the international nature of the disaster - police believe up to 100 of the 220 feared dead in the quake were from abroad.

Up to 24 Chinese are still missing, presumed dead.

And a popular internet site has listed the names and pictures of 20 Chinese who have not been seen since Tuesday of last week.

"If you are alive may you come out safely, but if you are already dead, then may you be in a better place," said one internet post.

Referring to one of the missing, another post said: "You are so young, I cannot believe you are gone."

Chinese online discussion threads on the earthquake have drawn hundreds of postings, some angry at the loss of Chinese lives.

"No country in the world has taken the lives of so many Chinese students at one go, I am sure New Zealand's education industry will be hit," says a skykiwi.com poster.

Another said: "Not worth staying in the city. Move to Australia."

Wendy Lin, whose friend Xiao Li is among the missing, says she does not feel safe in Christchurch any more - but is sticking around to find out if her friend can be found.

"I still cannot believe she can be gone just like that. I still think that somehow, she will one day turn up and say she is just hiding and playing a trick on us all," Miss Lin said.

Raymond Huo, New Zealand's only China-born MP, says many in the Chinese community are "reacting with strong emotions".

The Christchurch quake has brought back memories of the devastation caused by the Wenchuan quake in 2008, he says.

"Some would have been directly affected very recently by the quake in China, and must be asking why is it happening all over again."

The Labour list MP says he will meet families of the missing Chinese nationals on Wednesdayand is helping international students to relocate to Auckland.

Mr Huo says more than a dozen fundraising initiatives are being run by various groups in the Chinese community to help victims and survivors.

He said the initiatives had already raised over $500,000 in total, with more than half coming from a dinner fundraiser organised by Auckland community leader Steven Wong which was attended by Prime Minister John Key.

- NZ Herald

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