AN EAST Lancashire woman has told of the ‘terrifying’ moment she was caught up in the New Zealand earthquake.

Danielle Harrison, 24, who is travelling with her boyfriend, was forced to flee a shaking cinema after the 6.3-magnitude tremor hit Christchurch yesterday.

The quake left at least 65 dead and many more were feared buried under rubble in the city.

Yesterday, speaking from a park in the city where many have congregated to escape the carnage, Danielle, a former teacher from Higham, described how she and boyfriend James Clegg, also 24, witnessed collapsing buildings with people trapped inside.

The couple, who are in the middle of a round-the-world trip, were at a cinema just outside Christchurch city centre when the earthquake struck.

Danielle said: “We had only been in there for 10 minutes when everything started shaking and everybody rushed outside.

“The pavements were coming up Then we walked towards the city centre and saw buildings falling down. Bits had fallen on cars, part of the cathedral had fallen.

“Some of the buildings even had people we could see trapped in them. It was terrifying.”

Danielle, who used to teach at Earby Springfield Primary School, admitted she and James, a former worker at Halifax in Nelson, felt lucky to be alive: “When the cinema was shaking I really thought the building was going to fall in on us.

It was so scary.

“It was just so lucky that we chose to go to the cinema at the last minute and not go into the city centre, otherwise we could easily have been trapped in those buildings.

Even in the park afterwards there were buildings nearby shaking and I was thinking of the best escape route.”

The couple are due to spend two more weeks in New Zealand before going to Sydney.

Danielle’s mum Diane Harrison, 46, of Moor Drive, Higham, said yesterday: “I knew they were there and when I heard what had happened I really feared the worst.

“I shot out of bed but luckily I had a text saying they were okay. We are so relieved.”