CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand (Kyodo) The mayor of Christchurch expressed willingness Monday to build a monument in memory of victims of the Feb. 22 earthquake that struck the city, describing people from overseas affected by the disaster as “a part of our family.”
“We have yet to decide how, where and when, but there must be a way for us to never forget what happened here, to honor those in our own community and to honor those in overseas communities who are part of our family forever now,” Bob Parker said in an interview.
Parker also pledged to get to the bottom of the collapse of the building that housed Canterbury Television and the King’s Education language school and called on all people concerned, including relatives of the foreign students, to be patient about the progress of identification of the deceased.
“Families need answers and mayors need answers. We need to get this information and understand” why the collapse happened and how a similar accident can be avoided in the future, Parker said.
A number of students of the school from Asian countries, including Japan, China, South Korea and Thailand, were in the six-story building when the 6.3-magnitude quake hit the city. About 90 bodies have been recovered from the rubble.
“There’s a lot of pressure for the (identification) process to go faster and there has been criticism of it. . . . It is very important that identification is 100 percent accurate,” he said.
“I have three sons . . . and three grandchildren and for the first 12 hours after the earthquake, I could find no news of them,” Parker said. “I can only relate to it as a parent would relate to it. That is with a very heavy heart.”
Touching upon how other quake-devastated cities such as Kobe, San Francisco and Mexico City have rebuilt themselves, Parker said Christchurch will also come back with strength in the people.
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