Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 September 2014

Irish hero pulls two people from collapsed building in New Zealand

An injured person is carried by rescue workers after an earthquake rocked Christchurch, New Zealand (AP)
Eighteen year-old Libby Manning cries after being told there is no chance of survivors in CTV building in Christchurch, New Zealand , Wednesday, Feb. 23, 2011 in Sydney, after the city was hit by a 6.3 earthquake Tuesday, Feb 22. Miss Manning's mother Donna, was trapped in the destroyed building.(AP Photo/Rob Griffith)
CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND - FEBRUARY 22: Rescuers search for survivors in a collapsed building in Manchester Street on February 22, 2011 in Christchurch, New Zealand. The 6.3 magnitude earthquake - an aftershock of the 7.1 magnitude quake on September 4 - struck 20km southeast of Christchurch at around 1pm local time, with initial reports suggesting damage and fatalities far exceeding the initial quake. (Photo by Martin Hunter/Getty Images)

An Irishman was being hailed as a hero yesterday after pulling two people from a collapsed building following the earthquake in New Zealand.

Construction worker Paddy McGowan (26), from Killygordon, Co Donegal, was in an internet cafe in the centre of Christchurch when the earthquake struck. He described the scene as akin to the movie 'Independence Day', as pavements started moving up from the road and drains started sinking.

The experienced lifeguard said he ran to the aid of people trapped beneath rubble in a nearby shop, pulling a woman and man on to the street.

"We pulled the man out. He was unconscious. We kept doing CPR on him but the guy had passed away," he said yesterday.

Minutes later, he alerted police to the smell of gas and remained at the scene, preventing people from going down the street until police closed it off.

Mr McGowan said he had only been in New Zealand a month. His proud father, Donegal councillor Patrick McGowan Snr, told the Irish Independent he was delighted and relieved that his son was okay.

Meanwhile, Dublin-born mother-of-two Natasha Massey (41) described how she had to escape from her house. "We had to run for our lives to open ground," she said.

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