WELLINGTON (Reuters) - New Zealand rescue teams have given up hope of finding any more survivors from last week's devastating earthquake and will now look to recover the remaining victims, officials said on Thursday.
The head of the civil defense said there had been no live rescues since Wednesday of last week and the grim reality was that no more would be found.
"As time has gone on the chances of finding others alive has diminished. Sadly there comes a point where the response effort has to shift from rescue to the recovery of bodies, and regrettably we have reached that point," said John Hamilton.
The confirmed death toll from the force 6.3 quake, which struck on Feb 22 in the early afternoon, is 161, with police estimating that the final toll will be around 240.
(Created by Gyles Beckford)