No decision yet on mass grave - Chief Coroner

10:01 pm on 1 April 2011

The Chief Coroner says a decision on whether there will be a mass grave for the unidentified bodies of the 22 February Christchurch quake is still to be made.

The bodies of 12 of the 181 people believed to have died have still not been formally identified.

Earlier this week, Judge Neil MacLean said it was possible some remains could be buried in a mass grave, as was the case after the Erebus disaster of 1979.

After a meeting on Friday with families of the people believed to have died in the quake but yet to be identified, Judge MacLean said the joint burial idea was not discussed, and it could be weeks before a decision is made.

The meeting, he says, was a success. Many people came up afterwards and "thanked us for what we were doing", he says.

"It was really just a chance to explain the process - reassure them that there was no question of any sort of wholesale dictatorial command about what would happen."

Judge MacLean says everything is being done to identify the dead, including analysing dental records and DNA, but some may never be identified.