Wednesday, March 9, 2011

French-Canadian woman killed by New Zealand earthquake, authorities confirm

French-Canadian woman killed by New Zealand earthquake, authorities confirm

CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand - Police in New Zealand confirmed Tuesday that a Canadian woman was killed in the earthquake that rocked Christchurch last month.

A list released by authorities said 60-year-old Marielle Falardeau was among the dead.

Media reports say the French-Canadian was vacationing with her sister in Christchurch when the quake hit Feb 22.

In an interview two days after the temblor, Australian newspaper The Cairns Post reported Falardeau and her Australian sister were shopping in the centre of Christchurch as the quake struck.

They had been in Australia before flying to New Zealand Feb 2.

Marie-Noelle Falardeau told the paper she and her sister were due to leave for Montreal Feb 23.

Falardeau, who was still searching for her sister in area hospitals at the time, said the Quebecer was "so, so happy" on the trip the pair had been planning for six months.

The magnitude 6.3 earthquake that struck near Christchurch collapsed office blocks, damaged thousands of homes and killed at least 166 people.

Canada's Foreign Affairs department confirmed the death of a Canadian citizen as a result of the earthquake in New Zealand.

"We are in contact with the family and have offered consular assistance," a department spokesman said Tuesday in an email.

New Zealand has planned a national memorial service for quake victims for March 18. Officials have said the open-air service in the city park could attract up to 100,000 people.