A COUNTY Limerick woman is lucky to be alive after the building she was working in crumbled to the ground following the devastating earthquake that tore through Christchurch, New Zealand on Tuesday.
Orla Carroll from Cregane, near Charleville was at work in the Central Business District on Cashel Street when the 6.3 magnitude quake ripped through New Zealand’s South Island just after noon on Tuesday.
“The building is all gone. My car was crushed under it. We just tried to help as many people as we could,” Orla told the Limerick Leader from Christchurch this Wednesday.
“We pulled people out of the rubble on Tuesday and all I kept thinking was ‘Please don’t let it be one of my friends’. It’s scary, sad and very daunting as none of us know what tomorrow brings,” she added.
The 31-year-old is amongst thousands of people who have been left homeless following the devastating earthquake that has to date left 75 dead – amongst them one confirmed Irish citizen.
“We are at a friends as we are homeless. It’s in the middle of the night here,” continued Orla who was in a room with six people – all struggling to get some sleep as aftershocks continued to rattle the streets.
“Aftershocks have brought further damage both to our nerves and the buildings left standing. Everyone I know is accounted for and I’m just thankful for that,” she added.
There are approximately 200 Irish people registered in Christchurch. Hopes of finding more survivors of the earthquake are beginning to fade as rescue staff sift through the rubble in Christchurch.
Hundreds of foreign rescuers are joining exhausted New Zealand teams in an increasingly desperate search of quake-shattered buildings in the central part of the city.
The Director of New Zealand’s Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management, John Hamilton, has warned that rescue teams have a window of only two or three days to find people alive after the quake.
According to Orla - who is from Cregane which is located on the Limerick side of the Cork border near Charleville - the great community spirit in the city is getting her through the traumatic and testing time.
“There is great community spirit here that’s helping everyone get through it,” she said.
“People here have lost everything – friends, family, homes, jobs and a trust in a place we called home.” The scale of the disaster, she said, won’t be fully understood for several weeks. “It’s still very surreal and I’m sure it will take weeks before any of us realise the full effect of what’s happened here.”
Back home in Limerick, Orla’s mother Paula expressed her relief on hearing that her eldest daughter is safe and well.
“I’m just glad she is alive,” she said.