Miraculous tales of survival emerged on Monday after New Zealand’s most damaging earthquake in 80 years hurled sleeping residents into their gardens and left others cowering inside collapsing homes.
Xavier Trousselot-Rhodes (16) was asleep when the quake hit at about 4.35am on Saturday. He was tossed out of bed, through a disintegrating wall and into a pile of rubble on the ground outside, several metres below.
Despite his ordeal, the teenager suffered nothing more serious than cuts and bruises.
“I pretty much rolled [off the bed] and, as I rolled to the right, the wall gave way,” he told the Press newspaper.
“I was just in my boxers, so I had nothing to protect me really, and yet the car I landed next to was written off. It looked like it had been through a war zone.”
Xavier, who went to church on Sunday after his lucky escape, said it was fortunate his brother had decided to stay elsewhere on Saturday night because his bed was buried under rubble.
“Something was definitely protecting my Dad and I — the hand of God, definitely,” he said.
Residents of Christchurch, New Zealand’s second largest city, have spoken of their terror when the quake ripped apart the city, with many saying they feared for their lives amid the roaring noise of buildings collapsing.
Bridie Sweetman was in bed when the quake hit but just a short time earlier had been standing in the kitchen drinking a glass of water.
That room was obliterated in moments by the force of the jolt, which sent the chimney of a neighbouring house smashing through the ceiling, dumping chunks of bricks and mortar in the kitchen sink.
“Twenty minutes earlier I was standing in this room,” she told the website stuff.co.nz. “I feel lucky to be alive, blessed really.”
Comments have poured in to media and social networking sites from those affected by the experience, with some 9 500 people joining the Facebook site “I survived the Christchurch Earthquake Sept 4 2010”.
Writing to the Press, Governors Bay resident John Fountain recalled the “scariest 40 seconds of my life” after he woke to the booming sound of the quake and the fierce shaking of his house.
“Our houses, our homes, had been stolen from us in the dead of the night. I am still afraid as I walk through our bedroom and hallway now. We might have died there,” he said.
Marsha Witehira said a house guest saved her life by pulling her from bed before the wall of her room came crashing down.
“He pulled me down the bed by my feet and by the time he’d done that a brick had fallen from the wall right down beside my head,” she told NZPA.
“I had just made it under the doorway and then the next minute my house was falling down around me.”
Witehira said she normally lived alone, and it was just a coincidence that her friend had been staying on her couch on Saturday night.
“Had he not been there I wouldn’t have survived to speak about it today, that’s for sure,” she said.
Prime Minister John Key said it was a “miracle” no one was killed in the quake, with only two reports of serious injuries. – Reuters