Lives could have been saved if the fire service had arrived at the collapsed Canterbury Television building sooner than they did, a senior police officer has told a court.
A coroner's inquest is underway in Christchurch into the deaths of eight English language students who survived the initial collapse of the building but later died.
Of the 185 killed in the February 2011 earthquake, 115 had been in the CTV building.
On Tuesday, the second day of the inquest, the police officer in charge, Sergeant Michael Brooklands, told the court more lives could have been saved if the fire service had arrived at the site earlier.
Sgt Brooklands says he arrived at the CTV building minutes after it collapsed and called the fire service for assistance, TV3 News reports.
He says firefighters arrived at the site 43 minutes after the earthquake struck.
"I think in the circumstances the fire service could have been there within 30 seconds, which would have been great," he said.
"To be sitting there watching a fire build and not being able to do anything about it, of course I was frustrated."
Sgt Brooklands wrote in a report about the emergency response: "If I could have had the fire service at the CTV site earlier with more tankers, deceased persons that were removed in the first hours and were severely burnt could have possibly had their lives saved".
Detective Sergeant Rex Barnett told the court an unidentified Search and Rescue official "hampered" search efforts because he was concerned about health and safety issues, Fairfax reports.
He says the official opposed an idea to allow a demolition crew to clear debris from the building to make it possible to search for survivors.
The hearing, adjourned 13 months ago to allow more evidence to be gathered, is scheduled to run for the next two weeks and then for another week at the beginning of December.