Prince William thanks Civil Defence workers

By Andrew Koubaridis

Prince William chats with USAR personnel in Christchurch today. Photo / Pool coverage
Prince William chats with USAR personnel in Christchurch today. Photo / Pool coverage

Prince William has thanked Civil Defence workers for the "wonderful" job they are doing in the aftermath of the Christchurch earthquake.

He spent almost an hour at the Civil Defence headquarters today being briefed on the ongoing rescue effort.

The Prince told members of the armed forces he was stunned at the level of destruction in the CBD, and asked how the earthquake personally had affected them.

Burnham-based Captain Mark Rutledge told him his wife's cousin perished in the CTV building.

A sombre-looking prince said he had been briefed about the worst-affected sites.
"I've seen photos of it... It's so serious," Prince William said.

He asked the officers what role they played in the response. "Have you been picking people out of the rubble?"

Flying Officer George McInnes said that "would have been a bit noisy with the vibrations" so their role had been transporting people and equipment.

When he said they flew Iroquois helicopters, Prince William told him he was sorry about last year's Anzac Day tragedy that killed three airmen.

Prince William was shown through the Civil Defence headquarters at the Christchurch Art Gallery by national controller John Hamilton and Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee.

He shook hands with as many people as possible and thanking them for the "wonderful work you are all doing".

The speed of how the disaster relief was assembled particuarly impressed him as did the way different agencies were working together towards the same goal.

He spent several minutes with the welfare team who explained the medium and long-term implications the earthquake would have on residents.

One of the many questions he asked staff was the effect the February 22 disaster had on education in the city, and was impressed when told that many schools had already re-opened.

He asked to meet the women who co-ordinated the port-a-loo distribution throughout the city and posed for a photograph with them.

"Someone's got to do it," he joked as he surveyed a map of the city which showed where each port-a-loo was located.

The emergency centre was still busy during the Prince's visit but many people stopped working briefly to take photographs and watch him move through the building.

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