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New Zealand earthquake death toll rises to 148

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The youngest victim of Last weeks deadly quake in New Zealand has been buried.. as the country struggles to come to terms with the natural disaster. Authorities in Christchurch are now saying as many as 148 people have perished. However, as relatives count the cost, of losing loved ones, the government is facing a mounting expense in repairs.


Tears for lost loved ones.

Dozens of family and friends met at a local chapel in Christchurch to pay their last respects to the quakes smallest victim, a 5 month old baby boy.

Authorities have named just eight victims from last week's disaster, the boy and another infant among them.

Officials say the death toll could yet increase after rescue teams turned from finding the living to searching for the dead.

David Cliff, Superintendent, Christchurch Police, said, "We still expect that number to increase as other deceased people are found in the ruins. Our priority remains at present to reunite those who've died with their loved ones and the process involving the Disaster Victim Identification team is progressing as quickly and as proficiently as possible."

Cliff said there is serious concern for 50 or more unaccounted people which could see the final body count to reach as many as 200.

However, in a bid to get the city back on track, Prime Minister John Key announced the first round of financial measures to help survivors.

John Key, New Zealand Prime Minister, said, "I'd like to reaffirm our commitment to provide whatever financial resources are necessary to rebuild Christchurch and the Canterbury economy."

The first batch of aid will provide subsidies for employers worth 120 million New Zealand, or 90 million US dollars, to help pay salaries for some 50-thousand people unable to go to work because of damage from the quake.

The treasury has provided a preliminary estimate of the earthquake's costs. The figure could reach 15 billion New Zealand dollars, or 11.5 billion US dollars.

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