A British holidaymaker told how she miraculously crawled alive from the rubble of the devastating New Zealand earthquake – after popping to the LOO.
Celia David was on her way to Christchurch Cathedral with husband Mark when she darted into a coffee shop toilet to spend a penny – just a the quake struck.
The huge shockwave tore through the building and Celia was thrown to the floor in total darkness as the shop’s walls lurched from side to side.
Celia, 56, from Poole, Dorset, could hear the terrifying screams of others around her as buildings fell and masonry rained down.
But she became entombed in the loo – which kept her safe from falling debris – before crawling out through the rubble on her hands and knees to the exit.
She said yesterday: ”I was totally disorientated and it was if I’d gone blind and been buried all at once – I didn’t know what had hit us.
”Somehow I remembered I found the way out and worried that the door might have been blocked or jammed shut.
”Fortunately, I was able to just push it open and then crawl back through debris and overturned tables and chairs towards was I thought was the exit.
”I’d only gone in their minutes earlier to use the loo.
”I think it saved me because it was a sturdy little room and unlike the surroundings, didn’t collapse. And thank God we weren’t in the cathedral.”
After the terrifying ordeal, Celia, on holiday visiting son Oliver, ran into the arms of Mark waiting anxiously in the disaster scene outside.
But more horror was unfolding around them.
She said: ”The streets were just churning up in waves and the air was full of shouting and crying and the terrible noise of the earthquake booming and ripping everything apart.
”There were dead bodies strewn across the streets. It was heartbreaking.”
The couple were in Manchester Street, near the Cathedral and television studio when the ground erupted.
Their hire car was buried in the rubble of a fallen multi-storey car park – leaving them with just the clothes on their backs.
Police advised them to get out of town and they walked north for six miles to escape the falling buildings and severe aftershocks.
And they received another blow when Lloyds and AXA insurance said the couple would get nothing from their policies because the quake was an ‘act of God’.
Celia said: ”We have nothing and this is what we get from the insurance people. Tough luck they said. But at least we are alive.
”We’ll survive somehow.”