herald

Wednesday 15 August 2018

Dublin woman tells of terror at being caught in quake chaos

A Dublin Mum has told of her terror at being caught in today's devastating quake in New Zealand.

At least 65 people were killed in the disaster which left Christchurch in ruins.

The death toll is expected to rise with some 200 still trapped in the rubble.

Mother-of-two Natasha Massey (41), a native of Raheny, fled her office and went directly to her children's school when the road split in front of her.

"The road just split and liquid started bubbling through the surface," a shaken Natasha (pictured far left) told the Herald.

Irishman Joshua Cooney (39) also told how he survived the quake when the house he was working on started shaking.

"We had to run for our lives to open ground, because the whole house started to shake from side to side," the Kildare native said.

When the quake hit, Natasha was at work in Christchurch bank when it shook violently.

"Computers crashed to the ground and things were flying off the walls. I tried to grab onto a pole. People were crying. It was horrible," she told the Herald today. Natasha's first thoughts were for her children, Niamh (10) and Imogen (7), who were at school during the quake.

"I got out and started driving to the school and the road began to split as I drove. It was terrifying. Big splits began to appear in the road but I kept driving as the road began opening up right along side me. The car was jolted as the road kept splitting.

"There was liquidifaction starting which meant a grey silt was bubbling up through the surface. It was like a series of little volcanoes.

Bawling

"When I got to the school the children were safe but they were bawling their eyes out. We all stayed at the school for a couple of hours and people started to erect tents. But I was very worried about my husband Reon. He had gone to work in downtown Christchurch where the worst of it happened. I hadn't heard from him and more than a couple of hours went by.

"When I finally heard Reon's voice on the phone I just burst into tears. He was okay," she said.

Natasha, whose married name is Taylor, said the earthquake was "much scarier" than the earthquake that struck last September. As she spoke to the Herald, a strong after-shock shook her home, causing her to exclaim: "Oh God, it's terrible!"

"Out on the streets, there were cars underneath concrete. Two buses were crushed. We expect we will probably know some of the victims," she said.

A Department of Foreign Affairs spokesperson told the Evening Herald that around one thousand Irish people were in the city when the earthquake struck.

"A lot of young Irish people travelled to the Christchurch area to work on construction needed to repair damage from the last earthquake," said the Department spokesman.

"Anyone with concerns regarding family or friends who may be in the Christchurch area can contact the Department at 01-4180222 and can also register details on the Department's travel registration system, a link to which is available on the Department's home-page -- www.dfa.ie."

A former chairman of the Irish Society in Christchurch, Paul McErlain (76), said "We've no electricity in our home. My wife got out of the house immediately. The house was shuddering and shaking violently."

Pierce Purcell, from Clonmel in Tipperary, who is visiting his daughter Rachel in Christchurch, said he was upstairs when suddenly "the house started shaking". "I wasn't at all keen on the idea of being killed," he told RTE's Morning Ireland. His wife Maureen had just left an internet cafe when the earthquake struck. "The response was amazing ... ordinary people mobilised and started to get people out of different areas," she revealed.

hnews@herald.ie

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