CTV widower says info about wife's location ignored

11:11 pm on 4 December 2012

The inquest into the deaths of eight people who initially survived the collapse of the CTV building in Christchurch has been told valuable information about the location of one of the survivors was ignored.

The central city building collapsed in the 6.3 magnitude earthquake on 22 February last year, claiming 115 lives.

The inquest has heard from Alec Cvetanov, whose wife Tamara Cvetanova died, despite managing to survive under the rubble for at least 12 hours.

Mr Cvetanov said after many attempts to reach his wife on her cell phone, he finally got through just before 11pm, more than nine hours after the collapse.

Mr Cvetanov was allowed onto the rubble and in another call to his wife was told she could hear his voice and the sound of him tapping on the concrete above her.

She told him she was trapped with three Filipino women who were also still alive.

She also told him she was calm and had faith the rescuers would reach them.

He managed to locate her to within an area of 10 square metres but says the police then inexplicably forced him to leave the scene.

Mr Cvetanov said his attempts to locate her were also frustrated by the failure of rescuers to call for silence on his side of the building so he could hear her.

He said he believed the delay in reaching her contributed to her death.

Struggling to hold back tears, Mr Cvetanov talked about his motivation for giving evidence to the inquest.

"I would like to know whether Tamara was killed by the fire that swept through the building or further collapses of (the) CTV building... I want people responsible for all rescue services in New Zealand to learn from Tamara's death, so that somebody else does not die in similar circumstances."

The last time Mr Cvetanov heard from his wife was at 11.25pm, when she said she was turning her phone off to save her battery.