Body of Kerry victim of Christchurch earthquake found

THE body of a Kerry man killed in last month’s devastating earthquake in Christchurch has finally been found and identified.

JJ O’Connor, 40, a native of Lisereen, Abbeydorney, had been missing since the 6.3 magnitude earthquake hit New Zealand’s second-biggest city on February 22.

The father of one was working on the first floor of the Pyne Gould Guinness building at lunchtime when it collapsed.

It was the last building for which rescuers held out some hope of finding survivors.

Mr O’Connor’s wife Sarah, who was born in New Zealand, had been keeping a vigil beside the remains of the building but was informed on Tuesday morning that his body had been found.

Mr O’Connor and his wife, who is expecting the couple’s second child in May, moved to New Zealand from London with their son last September.

A keen GAA player, Mr O’Connor studied accountancy in Ireland and then moved to London where he met his wife.

His mother, Sheila, lives in Abbeydorney and he has two brothers and two sisters.

Meanwhile, three members of the McKenna family who travelled to Christchurch more than a week ago to bring home their brother Owen’s remains for burial are still awaiting news of when the remains will be released to them.

When this occurs, the family can begin the long trek home to Truagh, Co Monaghan, where the 41-year-old Owen had expressed his wish during a recent holiday home to be buried “should anything happen to me out there”.

The Irish Department of Foreign Affairs in Christchurch are continuing to liaise with both the McKenna family and the Christchurch police and health authorities.

The trio, Owens’s mother, Teresa, and older brothers, Brendan and Kieran, had began the long, heartbreaking trip on March 1.

However, it was only last Sunday that Christchurch police confirmed that Owen, a father-of-two, was killed in the earthquake.

Families of the up to 45 people who are still officially missing since the disaster have been told by city authorities that it could take “weeks or even months to identify all the victims”.

So far, 166 victims of the earthquake have been positively identified as having died in the tragedy but it is expected that the final death toll will rise to 200.

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