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Rushden Echo & Argus, 3rd April 1931, transcribed by Kay Collins
William Burfield - New Zealand
The New Zealand Earthquake

Letter from Rushden Man’s Brother – Graphic Story of Terrible Shock

Mr. Thomas Burfield, of Queen-street, Rushden, has received from his brother, Mr. William Burfield, of Nelson-street, Hastings, New Zealand, a letter in which he describes the horrors of the recent earthquake disaster which destroyed Hasting and Napier and spread disaster over the surround districts.

Mr. Burfield writes:

“No doubt you have heard the news about the earthquake. I was unhurt. I was in the midst of it when it happened, right in the centre. Three of us were talking; suddenly we had to cling together to keep on our feet, and the next thing I saw was a beautiful four storey building, the Grand Hotel, come down across the street. Then a big drapery shop, which cost £60,000 collapsed like a pck of card. Buildings were falling around me and crashing along the length of the street, scarcely one being left standing. My beautiful shop property was completely ruined, lay flat on the ground, and the tenant was killed on the spot, his wife being seriously injured, and not expected to recover.

“I wonder the death roll was not three times the number. You will see that in two seconds I lost my shop property and tenant. I rushed home as soon as possible. Everything in the house was all jumbled up together, everything broken that could break, every chimney down, bricks falling through the roof, the wardrobe lying across the bedstead with the end of the bedstead with the end of the bedstead broken off. Jam, food-stuffs, bottled fruits and everything on the pantry shelves had to be shovelled up and taken out in a barrow.

“We are living in a tent lent by the military authorities as we are still getting shakes, and we have a fireplace made of fallen bricks and a piece of the grate. There is a terrible lot to do; they are clearing the debris from the street, covering the holes in the roofs of the houses and getting the dead out from the ruins. There were three dead in my shops. Everybody seems very cheerful and doing their best. Napier, a town twelve miles away, is practically wiped out."

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