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2011-03-01 10:53

AMAZING JOURNEY: Ashley and Christine Vendt stand next to their pulverised Lexus, following their harrowing journey to escape the earthquake which devastated Christchurch, New Zealand.

A New Zealand couple caught by the earthquake that devastated Christchurch on New Zealand'snorth Island drove their crushed Lexus RX300 our of the rubble and more than 600km to safety.

Ashley and Christine Vendt had ordered lunch at a cafe in Christchurch when the 6.3-magnitude earthquake hit the city's business district. Their Lexus, parked nearby, was bombed with huge chunks of masonry and nearly destroyed when a department store collapsed. 

"It was terrifying," Christine Vendt said. "If we had arrived at our car three seconds earlier, I would not be here."

With damage from the quake around them and understandably more concerned with getting away from the area as quick as possible, the couple pushed the rubble off the bonnet of their 2004 Lexus and drove off.

The quake had wreaked havoc on their vehicle all the glass was smashed and the passenger side crumpled.


Their first stop was back to their nearby hotel before driving back to their home in Nelson some 600km away!

The journey home was made all the more difficult with reduced visibility and bad weather. "The vision out of the side was pretty dodgy. When it started raining I could not put the wipers on and lights coming towards us went in all directions," Ashley Vendt said.

When they stopped for fuel, locals poured out of a pub to look at the couple’s dilapidated vehicle. One bystander quipped, "I wouldn't bother locking it, buddy."

The trip took several hours and, despite many police officers examining the smashed-up Lexus, the pair were allowed to continue their journey.

The Vendts have been told by their insurance that their vehicle was an insurance write-off.

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