Loudest voice got heard, says demolition contractor

10:35 pm on 2 November 2012

A contractor with 20 years' experience in building demolition has told an inquest Urban Search and Rescue personnel prevented his staff and machinery from trying to rescue people trapped in the CTV building.

The inquest in Christchurch is focusing on eight people who survived the building's collapse in the earthquake on 22 February last year, but later died when they could not be reached by rescuers.

Alan Edge, owner of Southern Demolition, told the hearing on Thursday that shortly after the quake hit, he had three diggers at the CTV site equipped with pincer grips and concrete cutters, ready to start lifting away the rubble covering dozens of people.

He says he became increasingly frustrated at the Fire Service's Urban Search and Rescue teams, which he said prevented him using his machinery to help remove the roof, concrete beams and floor slabs.

Mr Edge said no one listened to his ideas or realised his expertise. "There wasn't people there willing to listen that long," he said.

"There was people running round and the loudest voice got heard, and people got shifted round."

Christchurch City Council civil defence emergency manager Murray Sinclair told the inquest there were tensions among the rescue service teams before the February earthquake.

He said historical tensions between the light rescue teams - who can't go under rubble - and the Urban Search and Rescue teams meant they never trained together.

Urban Search and Rescue members were to give evidence on Friday.