Family’s relief as sisters contact home

A PREGNANT Kilkenny woman had to dive under her desk for safety when a huge earthquake hit new Zealand.

A PREGNANT Kilkenny woman had to dive under her desk for safety when a huge earthquake hit new Zealand.

Rebecca Noonan, who lives in Christchurch with her husband Sean Naylor and daughter Maeve was at work in the city when the disaster struck. According to a friend the young mother had to jump under a desk and fell on the way out of the building as she escaped from the quake and was briefly separated from her husband who works in the same building.

Her sister Bernie who also lives in Christchurch was at home when the earthquake struck and has also made contact with their distraught family to confirm that she is safe and well.

Rebecca Noonan and her sister Bernie, who are originally from Loughboy moved to New Zealand in recent years. The siblings both work in the Central Business District. Their relieved mother, Helen and sisters Catherine, Gadie and Monica all still live in Kilkenny. It is understood that both women escaped injury in the terrifying ordeal.

A state of emergency has been declared in the Soutern hemisphere city of Christchurch, after the strong earthquake killed at least 65 people.

New Zealand’s Prime Minister John Key has said that the toll may rise as others are still trapped in the wreckage of collapsed buildings.

The 6.3 magnitude quake struck shortly before 1pm local time (midnight Irish time). Rescue and recovery efforts are continuing.

It was the second quake to hit the city in five months, and New Zealand’s most deadly natural disaster for 80 years. The Department of Foreign Affairs has said it is urgently liaising with New Zealand officials to establish whether any Irish people are involved. Anyone with concerns regarding family or friends can contact the department 01-4180222, and register details online on its travel registration system. It is estimated that there are approximately 1,000 people living in Christchurch according to a Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman.