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Rescuers abandon bid to save trapped students

By the CNN Wire Staff
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Quake rescues turn to recovery
  • Rescuers say damage to CTV building is not survivable
  • Rescuers pull one survivor from stricken Pyne Gould building
  • A woman trapped under her desk speaks to rescuers and media by phone

(CNN) -- Rescue workers in the quake stricken city of Christchurch on Wednesday abandoned a bid to recover victims from the Canterbury Television (CTV) building saying the damage to the structure was 'not survivable'.

"The CTV had a number of overseas students in it," said police operation commander Dave Lowry. "We don't believe the site is now survivable. The premises have deteriorated over the period of the rescue to the stage where we now feel it could collapse."

Xinhua news agency reported that two Chinese students and one Taiwanese were in the rubble.

"The sad fact is that we are moving the resources we have at this site to other sites where there is a higher probability of finding survivors," Commander Lowry said.

Survivors, meanwhile, were still being pulled from wrecked buildings with rescuers identifying seven sites with the greatest probability of finding people alive.

Office worker Ann Bodkin was pulled alive from the collapsed Pyne Gould Corporation building to the applause of rescue workers after spending 24 hours trapped under her desk. Another 14 people are still trapped in the building, among them a woman identified as Anne Voss, also trapped under her desk, who managed to call rescuers and media on her mobile phone.

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"A couple of hours ago, I thought I'd had it," Ms. Voss told New Zealand network TV3. "I thought it was 'goodbye Ann'."

"I've managed to wiggle out a bit because I couldn't breathe. Now I've got a wee bit of air here. I rang my kids to say goodbye. My daughter was crying and I was crying because I thought 'this is it'. You've got to tell them you love them."

She said she was unaware of what was happening and that she was waiting to be rescued.

"I'm not going to give up - I've got here now you get me out," she said.

Among the missing are 10 Japanese students believed to be trapped under the rubble at King's Education College, which was housed at the Pyne Gould building.

Gary Moore, who was trapped on the 12th floor of the 17-story Forsyth Barr building in Christchurch, told CNN of his five-hour ordeal as he waited for a crane and cradle to pluck 20 people from the stricken building.

"To say I was relieved would be an understatement," Mr. Moore told CNN by phone. "There were about a dozen strong aftershocks and our fear was that another big shock would further compromise the building."

"We could see other people being rescued from the window and we had to have faith that the building would hold up. It was a long wait."

He said the two stairwells in the building had collapsed and that he and the 19 other people trapped on the floor watched as further aftershocks sent rubble and debris cascading into the void.

"People were very unsettled," he said. "We spent our time looking out the window and running for cover when the aftershocks hit. I'm very lucky to be alive."

Peter Shadbolt contribued to this report