Family escape quake horror

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A relieved mum this week spoke of her relief after her daughter escaped after the chaos of the New Zealand earthquake.

Ailsa Dunnachie-Young was showered in falling debris in a Christchurch shopping centre as she shielded her son when the disaster struck.

And Beth Baxter, who lives in the village of California, was left shaken after hearing of her daughter’s ordeal in an early-morning phone call.

Tuesday’s 6.3-magnitude quake killed 75 people and Prime Minister John Kay described it as possibly the country’s darkest day.

Frantic searches for suvivors are now under way in the shattered city which has been devastated by the tragedy.

Yeserday (Wednesday), Mrs Baxter said she was shocked but relieved that Ailsa (30), son-in-law James and her one-year-old grandson Lucius were safe.

The 68-year-old said: “My daughter called me at four in the morning, saying she wanted to speak to me before I got up and turned on the news.

“She had been out shop-ping when the earthquake happened, There were pieces from the roof coming down all around her.

“She got Lucius on the floor and threw her herself on top of him.

“The earthquake lasted about a minute. When it was over they went up to the roof to get their car but couldn’t get out because part of the ramp was missing.

“They decided to walk home and it took them two hours. When they got back, there was no electricity or water.”

Ailsa, who left California for New Zealand three years ago with her husband, needed five stitches in her shoulder after being hit by falling debris.

Mrs Baxter, who volunteers in the Strathcarron Hospice shop in Falkirk, said: “Ailsa’s really shaken but she’s okay, although her shoulder is causing her a lot of pain.

“I was really worried. I just wanted her to come home.

“Her sister, Lyn Stone (40), lives in Australia so the family are going to go there soon to get over what’s happened.

“I’m just glad they are okay.

“It’s at times like this when you wish they weren’t so far away.”

Ailsa and her family are staying with friends after leaving their home because of a worrying crack across their living room wall and the lack of power.

Mrs Baxter, who moved to this area several years ago from Kilsyth, said: “They are just waiting with friends until they can get out of Christchurch and I’ll be glad when they do.”

International Rescue Corps, the urban search and rescue team based in Grangemouth, said that its services may not be needed in New Zealand.

Julie Ryan, spokeswoman for the organisation, said: “At the moment, it looks unlikely that we will be going to assist on this occasion.

“The New Zealand Government says it is happy with the teams that are there or that are on their way.

“The rescue teams in New Zealand, Australia and Thailand are very good. Also, because it’s so far away, it would take some time to get out there.

“The situation may change, but at the moment we won’t be going to New Zealand.”

As The Falkirk Herald went to press, a state of emergency was declared in New Zealand as the death toll rose to 75.

More than 300 people are still missing – including 10 Britons – after the worst quake since one in 1931 which killed 256 people.

The British Red Cross has now launched an appeal to help those affected by the New Zealand earthquake.

To donate to the appeal visit www.redcross.org.uk/nzearthquake or call 0845 054 7200.