Coroner's report takes aim at Fire Service

CTV site, half an hour after it collapsed (Chris Hutching)

The findings of coroner Gordon Matenga into the CTV collapse largely mirror those of the Royal Commission hearings of 2012.

He found no blame should be attributed to rescuers, who made valiant efforts.

But he also tabulated significant shortcomings, particularly in Fire Service organisation and equipment, as well as Urban Search and Rescue.

Efforts were less coordinated than they should have been with no clear line of command set up.

The collapse of the building in the midday earthquake of February 22, 2011 killed at least 181 people and possibly 185 because some people were unaccounted for.

Cutting equipment was not on hand and rescuers working on one side of the building didn’t know others had listening equipment.

One young student told her father about 4pm, “Daddy, I won’t make it."

Some trapped people survived until midnight or later based on their cell phone communications.

The poor Fire Service organisation came against a background of a practice exercise a year or two earlier that envisaged a similar scenario. But the lessons appear to have been forgotten.

The collapse of the building is also the subject of various other investigations into the liability of the designers and builders.

c.hutch@clear.net.nz

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