Mother hit by debris dies with baby in arms

A mother died with her baby in her arms in Christchurch's Cashel St Mall in yesterday's earthquake. Passersby went to her assistance, but she was already dead.

The helpers took the child away. It was not known how badly it was hurt when the pair were hit by falling debris.

Tom Brittenden, 25, was doing repair work to the already damaged Cafe Blur when the earthquake hit. He ran on to the street into an "unbelievable" scene.

With rubble everywhere, he and others started pulling away debris to free people trapped. He said the shops on the mall near The Strip were "a mess".

Mr Brittenden said it looked like the woman with the baby had run out of a store in panic and been hit by falling debris. "We tried to pull these big bricks off [them] .... She was gone."

Some people helping took her baby away, he said. "They just put a blanket on [the woman] because she had already gone."

The Press