Brother and sister caught in disaster zone

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A BROTHER and sister who grew up in Bury St Edmunds were at the heart of the earthquake which claimed more than 160 lives last week.

Tom Rose, 30, and his sister Jenny, 27, and her husband Alex were in Christchurch when the quake struck.

Jenny and Alex were visiting Tom during an 18 month trip to New Zealand.

Jenny and Tom rang their parents Claire and Peter, who live in Meadow Close, to tell them what had happened.

Claire said: “They woke us up with a phone call and I am so thankful for that as there was no time to be worried as I was able to speak to them. They both say the noise was the most dramatic thing. I think they are both very shaken but we are so thankful they were okay.”

Tom has has written a description of events on Facebook and described the moments the earthquake struck while he was at work in the City. He had earlier experienced the September earthquake which had been stronger and deeper but caused less damage.

He wrote: “The first one felt like bad aeroplane turbulance while this one you couldn’t stay where you were on the floor as it was moving too fast.”

Tom sheltered at his work’s canteen under a table and then got out of the building with colleagues.They sheltered in a nearby cemetery to stay clear of buildings.

He managed to make his way home to his house in Lyttelton and described cracked roads, crushed buildings andf fallen cliffs. He found his home had been jolted off its foundations and is unsure whether it will be salvageable.

He wrote: “The centre and south of the city are pretty devastated. Large numbers of buildings are down and there were a significant number of deaths......All around where I lived when I first moved to Christchurch there are massive chasms in the tarmac, person deep some with cars that fell into them, plus silt everywhere from liquefaction.”

He also praised the community’s response to the disaster with people helping each other and offering accommodation to those who lost their homes.

Tom has been working for an IT firm in New Zealand for the past five years while Jenny, a speech therapist and her husband Alex, a teacher, have been working and travelling there.