New Zealand Churches Remember Earthquake Victims

Church services were held across New Zealand Sunday to remember those who died in the devastating 6.3-magnitude earthquake that struck the nation's second largest city, Christchurch, earlier this week.

Many of the services in Christchurch were held out in the open air because church buildings were damaged.

The Rev. Alan Webster conducted a service on the lawn outside the Christchurch South Library.

Webster told NZPA news service: "Quite a few churches around the city do not have clearance and people are nervous about being in an enclosed space anyway so we have decided to meet outside. This is an open space where people can relax together."

At Christchurch Cathedral, Bishop John Gray led a solemn service in memory of those who died when the cathedral's spire collapsed during the earthquake. It is thought that more than twenty people were buried under the rubble.

Residents of Christchurch have spoken of their strong desire to see the cathedral rebuilt.

Christchurch mayor Bob Parker was quoted by the New Zealand Herald as saying: "We can't let it go. It does deserve to be rebuilt, stone by stone.

"It is a symbol of all those that have gone before. We've lost a lot of things, but that is one we should not lose."

The 6.3-magnitude earthquake killed at least 147 people, with around 50 still missing.

Engineers inspecting the center of Christchurch estimate that at least a third of the buildings will need to be razed.

A two-minute silence is planned for Tuesday at 12:51p.m. local time to mark the one week anniversary of the earthquake.

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