Belfast Telegraph

Bangor family shaken by quake

by Fiona Rutherford

A Bangor woman had a nerve-wracking wait to find out if her family were safe after last week’s earthquake in New Zealand’s South Island.

Lyn Coyle, the daughter of Dorothy and the late Ronnie Rutherford, of Victoria Drive, moved to South Island with her husband James and children Deby and Andrew five years ago. They set up home in picturesque Timaru, 90 miles from Christchurch.

Lyn was away at a nursing conference in the North Island when the earthquake struck 13 miles west of Christchurch in the early hours of Saturday, September 4.

At least 500 buildings were damaged and around 90 of these are likely to be destroyed but miraculously, only two people were seriously injured and no-one was killed.

Power and water supplies and roads are still disrupted this week, with huge cracks and kinks in the roads and bridges and railways buckled and bent.

Lyn said: “I was in the North Island while the South was shaking. James texted me at 5.45am to see if I was awake and I certainly was after that.

“He said the whole house was shaking. Everyone has been expecting ‘the big one’ for years now but they thought it would hit Wellington.

“We have always been told to stand under a doorway or put a couch against a wall and get under it. Andrew thought about doing that but then decided it was more exciting to stay in bed.

“He keeps telling me I missed the biggest adventure ever but I’m not so sure.” She had an anxious wait before they heard from Deby, a student in Christchurch, and her fiance Raj.

Deby and her fellow students rushed to get under their beds as the ground began shuddering in the biggest earthquake to ever hit the island.

Deby said: “It was a bit of a wake up call. It was pretty darn intense. It was a 7.1 — well there’s a good experience for my first earthquake!”

Deby’s university, as well as the local schools, remain closed while the aftershocks continue.

“The destruction is absolutely amazing,” said Lyn.

“It’s shocking to see the force of nature and the aftershocks are still going on. One of them was a 5.4 which is really strong. They say these could go on for weeks yet.

“Thank God the buildings in New Zealand are made to withstand earthquakes.

“This one was the same magnitude as the one in Haiti so it really is a miracle that no-one was killed.”

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