A woman trapped in the debris of the collapsed CTV building
could hear her distraught husband shouting her name as he
searched for her, an inquest was told today.
English language student Dr Tamara Cvetanova survived when
the six-storey Christchurch office block collapsed in the
deadly February 22 earthquake.
She had lost the tips of four fingers, but was otherwise
unscathed, trapped in a void between the pancaked third and
After dropping tools at work to locate his two young children
and drop them to safety at a neighbour, husband Srecko 'Alec'
Cvetanov rushed to the CTV site to try to find his wife, who
he could not reach by phone.
When he arrived at the Madras St site, he found the building
reduced to a smoking pile of rubble.
"I was worried Tamara was inside," Mr Cvetanov told a
coroner's inquest today.
He finally managed to reach his wife by cellphone at 10.48pm
- almost 10 hours after the collapse.
She only had time to say "Yes," before the network went down.
Excited, he called back and she managed to tell him she was
still in her classroom, which he passed on to police.
She was not scared because her husband had told her rescue
services knew she was alive and were working at getting her
out. Dr Cvetanova, who was a student at King's Education
School for English Language, was in a void with four other
survivors, from the Philippines, one whose left hand was
trapped under a concrete block.
A police officer spoke to the trapped woman several times.
Mr Cvetanov then clambered on top of the twisted steel and
concrete to tap on the concrete slabs to see if his wife
could hear his knocking.
"Tamara told me she could hear my knocking ... even my
shouting her name," he said today.
They hung up, and confirmed that she could still hear him
without aid of the phone.
Police watched him do this, and Mr Cvetanov relayed details
of the conversation.
At 11.25pm, she told him she was going to turn off her
cellphone to save her battery.
Mr Cvetanov, a friend and a police officer, tried phoning her
more than seven times but could not get through.
At 12.50am, she turned her phone on again and dialled 111.
She was not heard from again.
The harrowing evidence came at a coroner's inquest into the
deaths of Dr Cvetanova of Serbia, Cheng Mai of China, Japan's
Rika Hyuga, and Jessie Redouble, Emmabelle Anoba, Ezra
Medalle, Reah Sumalpong and Mary Amantillo, all from the
All were students at King's Education School and survived the
collapse but could not be rescued from the wreckage.
A total of 115 people died in the building collapse.
The inquest, before Coroner Gordon Matenga, continues.
- Kurt Bayer of APNZ