Christchurch quake in newlyweds' run of disasters

Last updated 11:01 06/04/2011

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A newlywed Swedish couple's marriage got off to a bumpy start when they experienced six natural disasters including the Christchurch quake on their four-month honeymoon.

Stefan and Erika Svanstrom of Stockholm set out on the honeymoon with their baby girl on December 6 and were immediately stranded in Munich, Germany, due to one of Europe's worst snowstorms.

From there they flew to Australia where they experienced the devastation of a cyclone in Cairns, the flooding in Brisbane, and narrowly escaped the bush fires in Perth.

Before heading to New Zealand, Mrs Svanstrom got a worried call from her mother.

The couple arrived just after the magnitude 6.3 earthquake hit Christchurch on February 22.

"We were there, the whole town was a war zone. We could not visit the city since it was completely blocked off," Mrs Svanstrom told Sweden's Expressen newspaper.

Their last ordeal was in Tokyo, where they felt Japan's largest quake since records began.

"The trembling was horrible and we saw roof tiles fly off the buildings. It was like the buildings were swaying back and forth," Mr Svanstrom said.

The family returned to Stockholm on March 29 after a much calmer visit to their last destination, China.

The couple escaped the disasters unhurt but still experienced some uncomfortable moments.

In Cairns they were forced to spend 24 hours on the cement floor of a shopping centre with 2500 others.

"We escaped by the skin of our teeth," Mr Svanstrom said.

"Trees were being knocked over and big branches were scattered across the streets,"

Mr Svanstrom, who also survived the devastating Boxing Day tsunami that hit Southeast Asia in 2004, said the marriage was still going strong.

"I know marriages have to endure some trials, but I think we have been through most of them," he said.

"We've certainly experienced more than our fair share of catastrophes in a marriage, but the most important thing is that we're still going strong."

Mrs Svanstrom said she could "only laugh".

"You think 'are we weather persecuted? What will happen next?' It is almost absurd."

-NZPA and AP

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