The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Thursday night extended condolences to the families of the 11 Filipinos who remain missing and are now presumed dead, after New Zealand authorities announced their shift of focus to recovering the remains of victims buried in the rubble of the recent massive earthquake that hit Christchurch.
"It is with sadness that the DFA learned of the statement from the New Zealand Civil Defense office that there is no more chance at this time of finding survivors and that they have to shift from search and rescue to recovery of remains," said DFA spokesperson Eduardo Malaya in a text message.
The missing Filipinos were believed to have been trapped beneath the rubble of the Canterbury Television (CTV) building, which collapsed after the deadly 6.3-magnitude quake that killed more than 200 people in Christchurch City.
The DFA had earlier declined to confirm if the 11 Filipinos are already presumed dead, saying they were still being considered as "missing". (See: No DFA confirmation yet if 11 Pinoys missing in NZ 'presumed dead')
Malaya, however, explained that they are merely following the announcement of New Zealand authorities as regards the halt in the search and rescue operations.
"We are guided by the pronouncement of local authorities on this matter and we are facilitating the submission of dental records, fingerprints and other materials that will hasten the process of the identification of remains," Malaya stated.
New Zealand authorities had given up hope on Thursday of finding any more survivors from last week's earthquake, as there had been no live rescues since last week and the grim reality was that no more people would be found alive, according to a Reuters report. (See: N. Zealand civil defense abandons search for quake survivors)
"We convey our deepest condolences to the bereaved families on the loss of their loved ones," Malaya added.
The 11 missing Filipinos and now presumed dead were identified as Jessie Lloyd Redoble, John Kristoffer Chua, Ezra Mae Medalle, Emmabel Anoba, Jewel Francisco, Ivy Jane Cabunilas, Mary Louise Anne Amantillo, Valquin Bensurto, Rhea Mae Sumalpong, Erica Nora, and Lalaine Collado Agatep.—JV, GMA News