Kurt Bayer

Kurt Bayer is an APNZ reporter based in Christchurch.

CTV report will change nothing - victim's brother

Lessons will be learned, future lives saved, but for families of Canterbury Television building earthquake victims there will never be closure.

The Canterbury Earthquakes Royal Commission report into the collapse of the CTV building in the February 22 quake was released today, with Prime Minister John Key touching on what it means for those left behind.

"Nothing will ever bring their loved ones back and we cannot dull their pain," he said.

Elsa Torres De Frood, 53, was director of studies at King's Education language school on the third floor of the six-storey Christchurch office block, which the report concludes was badly designed.

A fire engulfed the building shortly after it "pancaked" in the violent magnitude-6.3 tremor.

A total of 115 people died, and the remains of Mrs Torres De Frood were never found.

Her brother Gerardo Torres says the royal commission report will change "nothing" for his family.

He wanted those responsible for the disaster to be held accountable, but said no action would ever bring back his beloved sister.

"I don't want to keep my heart filled with anger and negative things," he said.

"Whatever they are going to do, we won't have any consolation.

"Our case is very bad. We couldn't find my sister. Knowing she has never been found is very tough.

"Nothing can repair the pain we are going through. We have to live with this pain every day."

Mrs Torres de Frood's twin daughters now live in Perth, Australia, with their father.

Her grieving brother puts on a brave face every day for his family and himself.

"I feel like a circus clown," he says.

"I'm in the middle of the show, acting, smiling, making everybody laugh. But the audience don't know that inside, my heart is crying.

"I miss her every day. I wish I could see her one more time... one more time."

The parents of Matty Beaumont, a 31-year old programme scheduler for CTV, agreed that the report did not provide any closure.

But David and Jeanette Beaumont did welcome its recommendations, saying it was especially important that lessons were learned from the disaster, which killed 115 people.

"Closure can never happen," Mr Beaumont said.

"Part of our life is gone forever. It's just day by day."

The release of the report brought the tragedy's emotions and sense of loss back to the surface for the Beaumonts.

"Unfortunately, for us, it goes on and on," Mr Beaumont said.

"If you lose someone in something like a car accident, it's in the news and then it's gone.

"But for us, there's an image on the news of the CTV building where our son died and it hits us again and again.

"We'll never forget our son, but it's tough being reminded in this way all the time."

The Beaumonts find solace in socialising with some other families who lost loved ones in the disaster.

"That contact helps, to talk to someone who knows what you are going through," Mr Beaumont says.

"Having good friends and family... that human contact is what helps you make it through."

Others haven't yet been able to read the report.

Geoff Brien, whose wife Pamela died along with 114 others when it 'pancaked' at 12.51pm last February 22, said he'd "skimmed through it" but didn't want to comment.

Quake Families' spokesman Brian Kennedy went straight to the report's recommendations.

Increased accountability for those who build shonky structures and removing building consents from local authorities were two of the major points, as far as he was concerned.

"I only see those as big steps forward," said Mr Kennedy, who lost his wife Faye.

Dr Alan Reay, whose firm Alan Reay Consultants Ltd designed the concrete Madras St structure in 1986, should also feel "uncomfortable" when reading the report, Mr Kennedy said.

He said it would also be appropriate for Dr Reay to face professional questions in the future.

While he'd suffered a grilling at the royal commission hearings and in the media, the public "tends to forget very quickly", he said.

Mr Kennedy remained "amazed" at how one building could be so thoroughly riddled with "problems or hiccups at every turn".

"If another building had 20 per cent of the issues this building had, there would be major concerns.

"CTV had everything going against it, at every stage, from day one. Quite amazing," he said.

Everyone had reacted to the tragedy in different ways, he said, with people's grief advancing at different speeds and manifesting itself in different ways.

For Mr Kennedy, the royal commission report had signalled to him that it was now time to move on.

"After the royal commission hearings, I'd decided enough is enough," he said.

"My daughters were very expressive when I said I was stepping back. They didn't particularly want me to front the media but I just felt I had to.

"I feel that I've done my bit, and it's now time to move on."

- NZ Herald

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