(iWIDK By Nina Hoffman) – The response to a deadly earthquake in New Zealand is being questioned.
A husband who lost his wife in the massive New Zealand earthquakes of 2011 told an inquest of their heartbreaking final conversations.
Dr. Tamara Cvetanov was trapped in the Canterbury Television tower when it collapsed, but initially survived and was able to call her husband using her teeth.
Search and rescue teams tried to get Cvetanov to text her location to them, but she had lost her fingers when the tower came down.
A coroner is currently investigating whether 8 of the 115 people who survived the collapse could have been saved.
Key listening equipment used to find victims was at another, smaller, collapsed site where 18 people ended up losing their lives.
The USAR engineer who would have used the equipment told the inquest that where it was to be used wasn’t his decision to make and that his bosses would have taken it to where there would have been the greatest chance of pulling out survivors.
A senior fire and rescue official, Jim Stuart-Black, has vigorously denied claims made by Cvetanova’s husband, Alec, that he told the man his wife’s death was inevitable.
Stuff.co.nz reported that Stuart-Black told the inquest, “I cannot accept that statement. Under no circumstances did I think anything along these lines, let alone say it. My statement would have been that we’re trying everything and that sometimes no matter what we do, we simply cannot get everyone out alive. I said very similar things to a number of people.”
Stuart-Black also faced questioning regarding his decision to not reach out to the UN for assistance, despite the fact that they may have been able to provided the necessary support to rescue the surviving 8. ”I … maintain, based on the arrival times of international teams, [it was] not appropriate to have an Undac team in Christchurch,” he said.
185 people died in the February 2011 tragedy. The inquest continues.