Cries of joy break through bleak day
Published 24/02/2011 | 05:00
AMID the heartbreaking tragedy on this, New Zealand's day of grief, there were unexpected moments of joy.
Not far from the Canterbury TV building, where up to 100 people died, cheers erupted as rescuers pulled a woman from another crumpled concrete office block.
Ann Bodkin emerged from the wreckage just as rays of sunlight burst through the grey and drizzly sky. "It was like God turned on the lights," said the city's momentarily relieved mayor, Bob Parker. Miss Bodkin had survived by cowering under a desk, without light, water, food or warmth, for more than 24 hours. She tapped on the walls of her tiny bolt-hole in the rubble, hoping that someone would hear her. They did, and they began to cautiously pick their way towards her, inch by inch.
One false move could have ruined the entire operation, sending large pieces of concrete raining down on Miss Bodkin and others still trapped inside the Pyne Gould Guinness building. Finally, after hours of tiptoeing through the carnage, they reached her.
The first thing she saw was an outstretched hand and a water bottle. After a further two hours of careful excavation work, amid continuing aftershocks, she emerged to breathe fresh air. Wrapped in blankets and smiling, she was helped on to a ladder and the crowd below broke into applause as she was reunited with her husband, Graham Richardson.
Mr Parker said the success in rescuing Miss Bodkin would bring "hope and optimism" to the embattled city.
However, miraculous rescues were few and far between and the rest of the city told a far bleaker story. (© Daily Telegraph, London)