Sandy and Merrilyn Hight.
Sandy and Merrilyn Hight.

Woman tells of NZ quake terror

A FORMER Bundaberg woman has told of the terrifying moments she was caught up in the 7.1 magnitude earthquake in Christchurch.

Merrilyn Hight (formerly Wills), who moved with husband Sandy to New Zealand in the late 1970s, said she was “flung back and forward” by the force of the quake in the early hours of Saturday.

“We were woken at 4.35am to this almighty noise, like a jumbo jet flying in, then the shaking began,” Mrs Hight said.

“I realised it was no quake like we normally get, so I got out of bed in a hurry.

“Next thing I was being flung back and forward across the room and ended up head first into an armchair. The lights went out at the same time so all this was in darkness.”

Mrs Hight said she and her husband used a “pencil-sized” torch to check the insides of their house and were relieved to find that nothing had broken, despite plenty of items falling on the floor.

“But I have lowered breakable things from cabinets, shelves on to the floor, taken paintings from the walls and there they will stay for several days,” she said.

Later that morning, they were outside talking to neighbours when the first of the aftershocks struck — measuring 5.2 on the Richter scale.

“We looked at our house, which is brick and rather long, and it was rocking back and forwards like a house on jelly. It was so amazing,” she said.

“They say we will continue to get shakes for the next four to eight weeks.”

Mrs Hight, a former Bundaberg State High School student, said between 11.30pm Monday and 4.30am yesterday alone, they experienced 12 aftershocks, many of them about magnitude 5.

“It's hard to believe we have had 250-plus aftershocks since the big one. We are living on our nerves now,” she said.

She said she was concerned that the latest shakes were coming from a different direction.

“Whereas the aftershocks have been swaying our home from north to south, (on Monday night) we were getting jolts from south-west to east. I just wonder how much more our homes can withstand,” she said.

“We are now told to expect there could be one of about 6 magnitude any day.”

Mrs Hight said the local council had been fantastic with keeping residents informed and working to resume water, sewerage and electricity supply.



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