Hitchin couple avoid New Zealand Christchurch disaster

A WOMAN from Hitchin has told The Comet about her “lucky escape”, after witnessing the New Zealand Christchurch earthquake which has claimed hundreds of lives.

Sandra Bohme, of Johnson Place, was at the end of a six week expedition with husband Jurgen when the 6.3 magnitude quake struck the island last Tuesday.

The couple, who returned back to England on Thursday, were up a mountain near Lyttelton, where the epicentre of the quake was reported.

But the pair narrowly escaped disaster after changing original plans to visit the Christchurch Cathedral on that day, where there are believed to be bodies buried underneath the rubble.

“We only bought tickets to go up to the mountain in the cable car the day before, so we actually feel lucky to be here,” said Sandra.

“When the quake began, we were up the mountain and thrown off the sofas we were sitting on.

“It was awful, devastating. It’s something I would not like to live through again.

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“When we finally got back to our motel, I was shaking all night with anxiety.

“We could see all the devastation, and the fear which was coming from the CTV building. The roads were just thrown up, and there were houses crushed to the ground.”

The couple had spent the previous six weeks travelling around New Zealand, and had planned on spending their last two days in the Christchurch area.

They had to be given a lift back into the city, after the cable cars were stopped due to the tremors.

“Two people died on the mountain we were on, so it makes us feel quite lucky really,” said Sandra.

“It seemed like something out of a film, it was not real. People were wandering around in the street with blankets wrapped round themselves.

“People were just standing there, with deadpan and sombre faces.”

At the time of going to press, the death toll in Christchurch stood at 113 people, with hundreds more reported missing.

Of these, two people were British, with most of the people killed tourists on holiday.