Safety of CTV building questioned

10:19 pm on 29 August 2011

The sister of a woman killed in the Canterbury Television building in central Christchurch during the devastating earthquake in February has questioned its safety.

The official toll from the 6.3-magnitude quake that devastated much of the central city is 181.

An inquest being held into the deaths of 144 of the people killed on 22 February resumed at a courtroom set up at the Riccarton Racecourse on Monday.

The second stage of the inquest was interrupted on 13 June this year when two large aftershocks struck the city. Evidence will be given relating to the deaths of 85 people in the CTV building , 18 people in the PGC building and 41 people in other parts of the city.

On Monday, the inquest focused on the deaths of 13 Canterbury Television staff and eight workers from the Kings Education language school housed in the CTV building.

Gillian Sayers was a teacher at the school on the third floor of the building which collapsed. At the hearing, her partner Matthew Boyce read a statement on behalf of her sister, Joanne MacGregor, who was unable to attend.

In it, Ms MacGregor asks what the directors of the language school did in relation to its safety following an earlier strong quake that hit the region on 4 September last year.

Ms MacGregor said her sister had concerns about the building and had repeatedly asked for shelves in the resources room - where she was in at the time of the February quake - to be secured to the walls. Ms MacGregor believed this had not been done prior to the fatal quake.

Though families have a chance to question Coroner George Matenga, anything relating to how or why the buildings collapsed will be dealt with by the Royal Commission later this year.

Detective Inspector Paul Kench gave evidence on each person's death on Monday, stating when they were located in the CTV building, how they were identified and what the post-mortem results showed.

A lawyer for the families, Marcus Elliot, asked Mr Kench if he could give specific information about where victims were found in the rubble.

Mr Kench said where possible, that information would be available. However, because members of the public were involved in the rescue, some information was not recorded in the way police were trained to, he said.

Mr Kench said the quake toll may rise by three or four people due to the notification of deaths of those who were injured but not listed as missing.