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Two missing Filipinos in NZ quake safe

By Gloria Jane Baylon

MANILA, Feb. 25 (PNA) – Two women who were among the 14 Filipinos feared missing in the aftermath of Monday’s earthquake in New Zealand, are safe after all, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) reported.

They were identified by the DFA as Rita Estrella and Hayley Concepcion, but no other details were divulged.

DFA stressed that New Zealand authorities are cautious in releasing information about those who may have perished in the quake until forensics or DNA tests are completed.

But the fact that DFA is now checking its own passport database on the missing persons and are appraising their families imply that they have the names of the casualties.

The fury of the 6.3-magnitude quake centered in Christchurch City, where all the missing Filipinos were located. The Filipino community in the city is made up of about 2,000.

The 12 others are still considered missing, and their families in the Philippines have been appraised by DFA of the latest efforts of finding them under the rubble of the CTV Building that housed their language school.

A host of other nationalities were in the school studying English as a requisite to working as nurses in New Zealand.

Authorities are now focused on searching for those who may still be alive and retrieval of the dead, said to number about 400 at the worst. The dead will be moved to a military camp in Christchurch, where the identification and processing will start in about three weeks.

The embassy team that was dispatched from Wellington is actively coordinating with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT), police and rescue teams, getting assurance from Foreign Minister Murray McCully that the MFAT will actively coordinate in the search for the Filipinos.

The DFA said it is now checking its passport database for information and biometrics about the missing persons.

The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration has also been requested to determine if any of the still missing Filipinos could receive assistance from the agency.

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