'Scores of bodies' in quake ruins

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A resident carries water bottles as he walks past a damaged stone chapel on the outskirts of Christchurch (AP)

Police said up to 120 bodies may still be inside one of the buildings hardest hit by New Zealand’s devastating earthquake.

That number is not included in the official death toll of 76, which is based on the bodies recovered and brought to a temporary morgue in the stricken city of Christchurch.

Police Superintendent Dave Cliff told reporters that “between the late 60s and 120 bodies, at the upper limit” were believed to still be inside the Canterbury Television building.

That number includes foreign students at an English language school in the building.

A magnitude-6.3 earthquake tore through Christchurch around lunchtime on Tuesday, collapsing some buildings completely and badly damaging many others in one of the country’s worst disasters.

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