A COUPLE from Huntingdon have told of how their hearts “felt ripped apart” by living through the earthquake that struck New Zealand’s South Island.

A COUPLE from Huntingdon have told of how their hearts "felt ripped apart" by living through the earthquake that struck New Zealand's South Island.

Gill and Ted Morgan ran the Vic for 19 years between 1983 and 2002, and later lived in Ingram Street, before moving to Christchurch, New Zealand, in 2006.

They were woken by the tremors of the magnitude 7.0 quake in the early hours of Saturday, September 4, and have suffered multiple aftershocks since.

"It was the most terrifying experience," said Mrs Morgan. "We grabbed each other - the whole house was shaking so violently that we could not get out of bed.

"We knew it was an earthquake immediately, as we had experienced one in Kenya many years ago.

"All I can remember was the most horrendous noise, like an express train entering a tunnel at 200 miles an hour.

"In about 30 seconds it was all over, ending with an almighty jolt, then silence."

The priority for residents was then to escape to higher ground, to escape any possible tsunami caused by the quake.

"Two hours later we returned to the house - there was carnage everywhere inside," said Mrs Morgan.

"My heart just felt ripped apart - 42 years of marriage, just to see all our collectables smashed, some of which had been in our families forever. How can you reason with that?

"I feel anger that our kids have been robbed of all these beautiful things."

After contacting their children, Amelia, Rebecca and Anthony, the Morgans began the painful process of trying to piece their lives back together, dealing with the constant fear of further tremors.

Their house is still showing signs of movement, and has been suffering regular aftershocks in the 10 days since the earthquake.

"For four days we hardly slept, cat-napping fully clothed and too terrified to go to bed," said Mrs Morgan.

"Many people are without jobs as much of the city centre has been rendered to piles of rubble, with roads and bridges unsafe. Our cell phones have been our soulmates as everyone has been able to make contact with those dear to them.

She added: "Everyone is trying to get going again, but until these huge aftershocks stop, people cannot rest.

"Recovery will be slow and painful. As the days unfold we realise that our plight is bearable, but for some, life will never be the same."