Quake story: tragedy and courage

Kia kaha - stay forever strong

Each day since the 6.3 magnitude quake that hit Christchurch last week we have read unbelievably gut wrenching, tragic and heart warming stories in the Dominion Post (our daily paper) and on the net.

This morning was the story of two young men who had rescued another, trapped under concrete from a building in which he’d been working. We’d seen the face of the quake victim in an earlier paper, the day after the quake – a face blackened by dust, eyes looking dazed and terrified at the same time, pain etched in the cracks.

The question was raised. Who was he? Where was he – amidst all the chaos, no-one knew where he’d been taken? Had he survived?

A couple of days later we learned that he had been recognised by his family in Kaikoura – a township several hours north of Christchurch. They were still searching for him … they’d seen his face, he must have survived.

HIs young rescuers are pictured sitting on a wall. One is gently cradling his head, while the other is laying on his hands, trying to ease the pain. Horror, disbelief and anguish mark their faces. We learned this morning that until that time, the man they saved had been a stranger to them. We learned that they gently tended to him for over an hour – listening to him, talking with him – until ambulance help came.

His injuries were severe. He didn’t make it.

News of his death came as a blow to his rescuers. One said:

“It has become more personal that he spent the final hour of life with me. I felt sad for him because it wasn’t nice how he spent the last part of his life – with a complete stranger.”

I think he was blessed in having spent his last minutes in the care of two such courageous and caring young men.

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