herald

Saturday 19 January 2019

'It was like a bomb had hit, people were covered in blood'

Tourists caught up in the deadly earthquake today spoke of the chaos and devastation following the latest disaster.

Eyewitnesses said the tremor levelled high-rise buildings, tore up pavements and sprayed rubble onto the streets below.

Barnaby Luck, from Wales, was in a hostel in Christchurch, when the disaster hit at 12.51pm.

"I was in my dorm room sorting some of my stuff out and knew what it was straight away as we have had a few aftershocks in recent weeks," he said.

"Everything started shaking and it became more and more violent -- it was like someone had got hold of the building and was shaking it and swinging it back and forwards -- so I just jumped under my bunk bed."

The 29-year-old, who has been travelling in New Zealand since last November, added: "Once it stopped I was really shaken up and went outside. A tree had fallen in a communal area where a lot of backpackers had been sitting a few minutes before which was scary, but I only realised the magnitude of it when I looked up the street.

Devastation

"The gable side of a building 100 yards away was completely levelled to the ground... there was just total devastation."

Backpacker Christopher Ratcliffe (27) had to shelter under a desk in a library when the quake struck.

"The building started to shake, my computer screen started to flicker and then the books started to fly off the shelves so I just dived under my desk," said the tourist from England.

"When I came outside the city looked like a bomb had hit it. There was dust and smoke in the air and bits of glass and rubble falling from the tops of buildings. People were walking around covered in blood and in tears -- it was just shocking."

Geri Nolan, the owner of Around the World Backpackers hostel, where Mr Luck was staying, said she had feared all her 37 guests were dead when the quake struck.

"Luckily it was OK but the city is ruined. It has been horrible."

hnews@herald.ie

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