The confirmed death toll from the Christchurch earthquake has risen to 123, while the number of missing people remains at about 200.
Superintendent Dave Cliff said the toll was expected to increase during the day.
Six bodies had been released to families, while 30 family liaison teams were contacting families both in New Zealand and overseas.
Search and rescue staff completed their initial grid search of the city centre on Friday.
Removal of unstable masonry from ChristChurch Cathedral stopped on Friday evening due to the aftershocks but was set to resume today.
Paul Baxter from the New Zealand Fire Service said more than 600 urban search and rescue workers were on the ground, including teams from Australia, Taiwan, Japan, Singapore, the US, Britain and China.
Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker said that of the 1000 buildings within the city's four avenues, just 600 were safe to enter.
Outside the central business district 4600 buildings have been checked, of which 341 are deemed unsafe.
Increasingly, the focus of the emergency operation is shifting to the city's hard-hit eastern suburbs.
A series of aftershocks overnight on Friday caused more damage to buildings in the central city. More than a dozen aftershocks have occurred since 5.40pm on Friday, ranging from 3.0 to 4.4 in magnitude.
Buildings that sustained further damage included the old Girls' High building on Park Terrace, St Elmo's Court in Hereford St, and Knox Church on Bealey Avenue.
Dean Peter Beck told the Christchurch Press that it was impossible to know how many people were inside the cathedral tower when the quake struck.
Yesterday, cameras were lowered into the stone-filled tower of the cathedral by workers suspended above the devastation by a crane.
Emergency worker Ian Oliver said the men were focused on slowly clearing away the unstable stones.
"They're knocking the top of the bricks off and making it safe for the guys to go in. We put a camera in before but there was nothing. No sound, nothing."
Engineers today were seeking to assess the risks involved in accessing the cathedral. Two cranes were on site and engineers were hovering over the structure to gain more information before a rescue /recovery team could be sent in.
The assessment team includes the engineer who oversaw the cathedral's original earthquake strengthening.
Dean Beck said he was feeling the damage to the church in "a very deep way".
"At some point I'm going to need to cry but I'm just too busy to do that at the moment.
"I'm deeply aware how significant the cathedral is for Christchurch. So many people see it as a symbol of our city and how broken it is at the moment."
When the quake hit he was sitting in his office and did not realise how devastated the building was till later.
"I walked through this thick fog of dust. I had no idea of the damage till I looked up and saw the sky where the roof should be."
The tower – where the dead are believed to be – must have "imploded".
Dean Beck added: "The cathedral can be rebuilt. Maybe in a different way, we will be building in a way that is good for the future.
"The priority is getting out those bodies and returning them to their families."
Dean Beck told TV3 that talk of a special service was "a bit soon".
About 26 Anglican churches were in "a very bad way," he said.
There were no plans to transfer cathedral services this Sunday to an alternate location.
Cathedral regulars, supporters and visitors wishing to attend worship were encouraged to join other congregations around Christchurch.
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