Christchurch says goodbye to youngest victim of earthquake

The youngest known victim of the New Zealand earthquake was its first to be laid to rest yesterday, as grieving relatives clutching stuffed toys bid farewell to five-month-old Baxtor Gowland.

The infant was sleeping at his home in the southern city of Christchurch when he was struck by masonry shaken loose when the earthquake hit with sudden and brutal force last Tuesday. He died in hospital.

Authorities have named just eight victims of the disaster – Baxtor and another infant among them – and say they are struggling to identify many of the 140 other bodies pulled from the rubble because of their injuries.

Dozens of Baxtor's family and friends, most wearing baby-blue ribbons pinned to their mourning black, gathered at a small chapel. A slideshow of the smiling infant's photographs flashed on a screen as Sarah McLachlan's song "Angel" echoed throughout the room.

After the ceremony, the tiny white casket bearing a wreath of white flowers was carried by a single pallbearer to a waiting car. His mother watched, clutching a dark-blue stuffed toy.

"Bax you are forever in our hearts we will always love you xo," the boy's father Shaun McKenna wrote on a Facebook tribute page, under a photo he uploaded of his son. "To the little man who made everyone smile who met him, may you look down upon us and help us remember your beautiful face."

The official death toll from the earthquake rose to 148 yesterday after another body was found, and grave fears remain for about 50 people who are unaccounted for, Police Superintendent David Cliff said.

Among the dead or missing are dozens of foreign students from an international language school inside an office building that collapsed with up 120 people inside. Up to 22 other people may be buried in the rubble at Christchurch Cathedral, most of them believed to be tourists climbing the bell tower for its panoramic views of the southern New Zealand city.

Distraught relatives, including many who flew in from overseas last week, met with officials again yesterday hoping for news on the identification process. "The waiting is the agonising part," Superintendent Cliff said. Two minutes of silence will be observed for the victims today.

New Zealand's Prime Minister, John Key, announced the first package of financial measures for the stricken city – subsidies for employers worth NZ$120m (£55m) to help pay salaries for some 50,000 people unable to go to work because of the earthquake damage.

"It is designed to immediately put money into peoples' pockets and give them some confidence," Mr Key said after a Cabinet meeting. He also put the expected economic cost of the earthquake at about NZ$20 billion (£9.2bn).

Mr Key has vowed that Christchurch will be rebuilt, and to standards that can weather major earthquakes in future. Many of the buildings that collapsed or were badly damaged were built before New Zealand upgraded building codes to guard against earthquake damage in the 1970s.

Power and water supplies are gradually being restored to the city, though the clean-up efforts have been hampered by heavy layers of silt thrown up by the earthquake that are now building up in many places.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Sport
Diego Costa, Ross Barkley, Arsene Wenger, Brendan Rodgers, Alan Pardew and Christian Eriksen
footballRodgers is right to be looking over his shoulder, while something must be done about diving
News
i100
Life and Style
gaming
Arts and Entertainment
Carl Barat and Pete Dohrety in an image from the forthcoming Libertines short film
filmsPete Doherty and Carl Barat are busy working on songs for a third album
Arts and Entertainment
films
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Electronic Engineer - Smart Home / IoT Devices

£32500 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Electronic Engineer is requi...

Austen Lloyd: Commercial Solicitor - Leicester

Excellent Package: Austen Lloyd: LEICESTER - SENIOR COMMERCIAL SOLICITOR- An o...

Recruitment Genius: IT Support Engineer - 1st Line

£18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT support organisation focuses on ...

Ashdown Group: IT Support Analyst (Windows, Active Directory) - London £26k

£26000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Technical Support Analyst / IT Support Analys...

Day In a Page

In a world of Saudi bullying, right-wing Israeli ministers and the twilight of Obama, Iran is looking like a possible policeman of the Gulf

Iran is shifting from pariah to possible future policeman of the Gulf

Robert Fisk on our crisis with Iran
The young are the new poor: A third of young people pushed into poverty

The young are the new poor

Sharp increase in the number of under-25s living in poverty
Greens on the march: ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’

Greens on the march

‘We could be on the edge of something very big’
Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby - through the stories of his accusers

Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby

Through the stories of his accusers
Why are words like 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?

The Meaning of Mongol

Why are the words 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?
Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible