Wed February 23, 2011
The Two-Way

A Day After Quake, Hope And Despair In New Zealand

Officials in New Zealand say that hundreds of victims of Tuesday's earthquake remain missing. In Christchurch, rescue workers are sifting through rubble and buildings damaged in the quake that struck just before 1 pm local time Tuesday.

Prime Minister John Key says that the death toll now stands at 75, but that the figure is likely to rise. Officials are being quoted as saying that some 300 people remain missing. Foreign rescue workers are joining the search, now in its second night.

The timing of the mid-day quake meant that many workers were trapped in office buildings. An AP reports cites rescue workers who found that in some cases, concrete floors had simply collapsed upon one another.

But relief workers found a woman alive early Wednesday, in the four-story Pyne Gould Guinness office building — after she had called reporters Tuesday night to tell them that she was alive and trapped in the building. Ann Voss suffered several cuts and broken ribs, but is expected to recover.

While she was trapped, Voss, who is Australian, spoke on the phone several times with her son and family members.

Here's more from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation:

Ms Voss said she had plenty of time trapped under four storeys of rubble to reassess her priorities in life.

"Like not worrying about stupid things like: `Oh my God, where's my bag?'," she said.

"What does that matter? They are things you can replace later. You can't replace people."

Ms Voss says she believes her desk saved her.

Her son was happy that it had.

"She's a very good mum," he said.

There was some initial confusion about Voss's rescue, because two women, both named Ann, were found alive in the Pyne Gould Guinness building Wednesday. The other was Ann Bodkin, about whose rescue Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker said, "The sun came out the moment she was removed from the building. It was like God turned on the lights."

People worried about friends and relatives who may have been trapped in the quake have been using the Google Person Finder to check on them. One group using the service: workers down in Antarctica, who commonly use Christchurch as a waypoint to the McMurdo Station research facility.

Despite experiencing a Condition 1 storm Tuesday, workers there were reportedly far more worried about their colleagues and friends in New Zealand. Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.