3 March, 2011
Prime Minister's announcement on developments in Christchurch
I thought it appropriate to make some comments to mark the announcement made a short time ago in Christchurch that the rescue phase has come to an end, and that we are now fully in a recovery phase.
This will be a very sad day for the families of those who are missing.
This is also a very sad day for all those involved in the rescue effort, who have worked night and day combing the city valiantly searching for signs of life.
As a nation we were all aware that as the last nine days have worn on, the chances of those who have been caught up in this terrible tragedy being found alive were decreasing. But all of us held onto hope that there would be a miracle.
Sadly today’s announcement confirms that we must now confront the permanence of that loss.
To the families from New Zealand and overseas, many of whom I have now met at their daily meetings, can I offer my heartfelt sympathies at your loss.
All New Zealanders grieve with you and are thinking of you.
To everyone involved in the rescue effort, from here and across the world, can I extend the country’s thanks for your tireless efforts in what has been a very difficult and dangerous environment.
There have been many stories of courage and bravery, and I am sure that many more will emerge over the coming days. You have all done a tremendous job.
Police and other authorities are continuing to work on the important task of recovering the bodies of those who have lost their lives, and on identifying the names of the missing who have died.
Everyone involved understands the need for the families to have certainty and if at all possible the return of their loved one.
In the coming weeks at the appropriate time we will hold a national memorial service in Christchurch to honour the lives of those who have died.
In the days and weeks ahead, we will continue to plan and work on the recovery and re-build of Christchurch.
There will be many opportunities to discuss that work over that time.
But today is a day where we as a nation, along with our many friends around the world, mark with a heavy heart and great sadness this moment of unbearable loss for all the families involved.