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Md. Study Abroad Student Survives New Zealand Earthquake

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Elizabeth Burdick

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ)—An earthquake shatters New Zealand’s second largest city. At the center of the rubble was a college student from Annapolis. Despite the chaos–the aftershocks and cell phone blackouts– the 20-year-old made it out alive.

Suzanne Collins spoke to the young survivor Friday night.

Elizabeth Burdick did get out of her flat safely, but it was a frightening experience she will never forget.

Burdick has been evacuated from Christchurch to another New Zealand city. She tells of her horrifying experience by phone:

“All of a sudden, my desk started shaking,” Burdick said. “I was like ‘Oh no, oh no.’ And the power cut out. I jumped under my desk. I was sitting under there, and it shook for like 55 seconds. And after the first 20 seconds, I started thinking this is not fun anymore. I could hear things crashing.”

Once the 20-year-old got out of her student flat, she called her parents by cell phone.

“She said, ‘There’s been an earthquake. Just so you know I’m safe and I have to go,’” her father Jim Burdick recalled.

Elizabeth Burdick’s parents say they felt great relief, but with news reports of serious damage and numerous deaths, they worried when seven more hours passed without word from their daughter.

Elizabeth Burdick, meanwhile, was experiencing major aftershocks.

“There were six of us, and we all dove under the kitchen table, almost started crying. At that point we’d had enough. We packed up our backpacks with valuables and just left,” she said.

Burdick graduated from Annapolis High School in 2008. She is attending Bucknell University in Pennsylvania. She was in New Zealand on a semester study abroad program.

Burdick and other American students spent two days housed in an earthquake safe building before being moved out of town.

She says she has a real love for Christchurch now and its people after seeing how compassionate they became in a catastrophe.

At least 165 people did lose their lives in the earthquake.

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