When the earth­quake hit, lo­cal farmer Greg Mor­rell was driv­ing his truck, tak­ing a load of prime lambs to the rail head.

Mr Mor­rell, now 72, was one of the first peo­ple to ar­rive in the town’s main street and to see, first­hand, the ex­tent of the destruc­tion.

“There was no warn­ing,” he said. “All of a sud­den, it felt like the truck had square wheels. We pulled up, stopped and still felt the shak­ing.

“Then the Angli­can Church ad­ja­cent

to the truck just col­lapsed. We rushed over to make sure there was no one in­side or in­side the rec­tory. There wasn’t. But imag­ine if it had hap­pened on a Sun­day morn­ing.

“We didn’t au­to­mat­i­cally think it had been an earth­quake. We hadn’t been in one be­fore. I don’t know what we thought it was.

“But then we went down the main street and saw the destruc­tion. Power lines were down, build­ings were dam­aged or had col­lapsed. Then we re­alised it had been a quake.

“Peo­ple were walk­ing around; dazed, shaken.

“We then saw my step-aunt. She said her hus­band was trapped in the rub­ble of their house.

“My fa­ther and I started the res­cue. We could hear him but we just had to keep dig­ging un­til we could get him out.

“Fi­nally we did. And he was fine. “He had been asleep. He didn’t re­mem­ber how but some­how he got un­der the bed be­fore the walls col­lapsed.”

Greg Mor­rell by the town hall site.

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