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Infant boy first NZ quake victim laid to rest

February 28, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
A baby boy who is the youngest known victim of New Zealand's earthquake disaster was laid to rest Monday. His funeral is the first for the more than 150 victims.

Baxter Gowland, 5 months old, was killed when he was hit by falling debris while sleeping in his Christchurch home when the magnitude-6.3 earthquake struck Tuesday.

Grieving relatives clutched stuffed toys and draped his tiny coffin in a comforter.

After the ceremony, the tiny white casket bearing a wreath of white flowers was carried by a single pallbearer to a waiting car. Gowland's mother watched as she held on to a stuffed toy.

"Bax you are forever in our hearts we will always love you xo," the boy's father Shaun McKenna wrote on a Facebook tribute page, under a photo he uploaded of his son. "To The little man who made everyone smile who met him, may you look down upon us and help us remember your beautiful face."

Gowland is one of just eight earthquake victims identified so far.

Another body was found Monday, bringing the death toll to 154.

It's expected to go higher as the bodies of more victims are discovered in the rubble. More than 50 victims are still missing.

The threat of landslides triggered by aftershocks forced the evacuation of hundreds of homes in the nearby town of Sumner.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.