Coast athlete's family caught up in NZ earthquake
IT WAS nerve-wracking morning for Noosa local and Sunshine Coast Phoenix basketballer Tavita Karika.
'TK' couldn't get through to his mother, having tried to contact her as soon as he heard the news of the earthquake that struck about 90km north-east of Christchurch late last night (Queensland time).
He said he couldn't help but fear the worst when she didn't respond immediately this morning, as he was all too familiar with how devastating NZ quakes could be.
Mr Karika was in Christchurch in 2011, when a 6.3 magnitude quake ripped his share house in half about 12.50pm on February 22.
He'd just got home from the gym and was having a nap when he was shaken out of his bed. His house mate, who'd been playing video games, was screaming at him to get to a door.
After a "good minute" of tremors, he and his house mates emerged onto the street to find a split of two or three metres down the middle of their apartment which now sat in a street more closely resembling a war zone.
Dust and debris was everywhere, people were running around with cuts and injuries, terrified of another tremor.
"It was full-on," Mr Karika recalled of the quake which killed 185 people and left thousands injured.
"That night we did not sleep."
Thankfully he was 2600km away when disaster struck again and he was relieved to hear his mother had survived unscathed from the quake which was felt as far away as Wellington, more than 200km away from the epicentre.
"She slept through the whole thing," he said.
"I know a couple of my friends got hit pretty hard.
"It still hit our little hometown pretty solidly, as soon as I got news I sent her a Facebook message and tried calling her."
He said some of his friends had driveways with splits in them now and another mate, Les Humphris had just bought a new home in Christchurch, but as he was currently holidaying overseas, it was unclear whether that property was still standing.
The 2011 earthquake had left he and his house mates on eggshells through the night. They'd been unable to leave town, the line-up at the service station making it impossible to fill up their car and make an exit.
He said they were left sitting in the lounge room, talking to each other and swapping banter, trying to keep their spirits up, unsure if they were about to be rocked again.
"It was actually really frightening," he said.
"I don't wish that on anybody."
Following that quake he moved south to Invercargill for an opportunity to further his basketball career. The bitterly cold weather a fair trade for the reduced risk of earthquakes, before moving to Australia in 2013.
He said many students took transfers to Otago University following the quake, afraid of being caught in another earthquake and expected a similar exodus from Christchurch after today's disaster which struck an area still rebuilding from the devastation of five years ago.