Tributes to UK victim as hopes fade for trapped

TRIBUTES have been paid to a 25-year-old man from Yorkshire killed in the New Zealand earthquake as rescuers admitted that the chances of finding more survivors in the rubble were fading.

Gregory Tobin, a chef from Tadcaster, North Yorkshire, died when the magnitude 6.3 quake tore apart Christchurch on South Island four days ago.

He was one of two people from the UK known to have been killed in the tragedy. The overall death toll had risen to 113 yesterday.

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Another British victim killed has yet to be named and there are also fears growing over those missing who are yet to be found.

There were more than 200 people still not found and up to 120 bodies believed to still be inside the Canterbury Television Building yesterday.

However, there was one bright moment amid the misery when a woman rescued from the rubble just days ago was able to ahead with her planned wedding.

Mr Tobin, who attended Tadcaster Grammar School, had been on a round-the-world trip and was believed to have been working temporarily at a garage in Christchurch.

He had worked as a chef in the UK and also performed as a rapper known as Instinct at music nights in Leeds.

Friends have left tributes to him on his page of the social networking website Facebook. One read: “Such a nice guy and at such a young age.” Another read: “Sad times I can’t believe it.”

His mother, Caroline, is understood to have flown out to New Zealand.

Among anxious British families waiting for news were relatives of Susan Selway, who was in her fourth-floor office in the Canterbury Television building when the tremors tore through the city on Tuesday.

Ms Selway, a clinical psychologist who celebrated her 50th birthday this month, was working in the building temporarily after her previous office was badly damaged in an earlier earthquake.

Her husband, financial adviser Richard Austin, rushed to her workplace after hearing the news and waited all night with his brother, David, in the hope of seeing her walk out of the building alive. But he is yet to hear any news about her.

Ms Selway’s stepmother, Linda Selway, 55, from Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire, said: “It’s absolutely awful. Her old office building was condemned after the last earthquake but it wasn’t hit this time and if she had been there she would have been alright.

“She’s beautiful, gorgeous, lovely and very bubbly. She’s the life and soul of the party and is always helping people out. She’s the rock of the family.”

Ms Selway, born in New Zealand to British parents and educated in the UK, had been due to move out of the Canterbury Television building next Tuesday into new premises.

Friends and family of missing Briton, Phil Coppeard, 41, also faced an agonising wait to learn what had happened to him.

Mr Coppeard emigrated to the country recently with his wife, Suzanne Craig.

The country’s foreign minister Murray McCully warned: “There will be families receiving the worst type of news in the next few days.”

The number of bodies in the city’s temporary morgue has risen to 113, with more than 200 people missing, but police say a large number of the 113 dead will be on their missing list.

A 63-strong team of British emergency fire and rescue service workers is assisting the rescue effort drawn from fire services across the country.

Some of them worked in the search and rescue mission following the Haiti earthquake last year.

Civil Defence Minister John Carter said: “We are still hopeful that there still may be people rescued, but it’s getting less and less likely.”

New Zealanders took some comfort amid the horror with the marriage of earthquake survivor Emma Howard yesterday, who was rescued on Tuesday after being trapped in the quake.

He new husband Chris Greenslade had directed rescuers to a tiny space between floors after he raced to the building when she managed to contact him with her mobile phone.

Mr Greenslade started digging through the rubble of the collapsed office block himself when she sent him a text message.

“I got this text ... saying ‘It’s Emma here. I’m OK and I love you very much,” said Mr Greenslade.

His bride said he kept her calm by sending her reassuring texts.

“His message said, ‘I’m with your parents. I love you. There are lots of men trying to get you out,’” she told reporters.

He helped free several other trapped victims before having to call in help to reach his fiancé who was freed after six hours beneath tons of concrete and steel.

Yesterday, she said that going ahead with the wedding was a sign that the disaster could not break people’s spirit.

A helpline on 020 7008 8765 has been set up for concerned friends and relatives in the UK. British nationals in New Zealand are advised to call 049 242 898