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Wednesday, 24 April 2019 09:44 am

Foreigners find refuge in Wellington

Feb 24th, 2011 | By | Category: Front Page Layout, Latest News, News


ISRAELI tourist Yosef Steier is being evacuated home with a broken leg after being trapped under rubble in Christchurch this week.

He sits in a chair looking tired with his leg in plaster, cuts and bruises on his feet, holding boxes of medication at the Wellington Civil Defence centre.

He has his passport, wallet, cellphone and just the clothes he was wearing when the a building collapsed and trapped both legs for over 20 minutes.

Last night he stayed at Wellington’s Pipitea Marae, tomorrow he flies to Auckland, then back to Israel on a flight organised for him.

“A friend at home is organising it for me,” says Yosef, who manages a smile for the photo, right.

He is one of the many foreigners arriving at the Toi Poneke Community Arts Centre in Abel Smith Street, where the Wellington Emergency Management office has set up for overseas tourists who have nowhere else to go.

The centre appears to be operating with a relaxed effiency.

Senior Advisor Wellington Emergency Management Office, Daniel Neely says many arriving at the centre have lost everything, some have no passports or clothing.

They have had about 350 foreigners through the centre so far and are expecting more today arriving by plane and ferry.

The centre is assisting with accommodation and putting tourists in contact with embassy’s, as many coming have lost passports.

At the centre there is everything from butter chicken to toothbrushes, medical care and clothing.

Volunteer Victim Support worker Gayle Wiggett says people coming into the centre are shell-shocked, people walking around dazed and some look so alone, many arriving with just what they are standing in.

She said some people just need someone to talk to.

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