Saturday, August 02, 2008

Close call

Video footage has captured the moment a New Zealand man narrowly escaped the crushing force of a 30m falling tree on the South Island city of Nelson. The anticipation of witnesses can be heard on the video as the pine tree crashed to the ground just centimetres behind Paul Thomas’ car as he drove along the street during a raging storm on Wednesday night.

But the Nelson resident said his brush with death, which snapped his car's aerial, was a "buzz", according to TVNZ.

"I saw through my front windscreen above me that the tree was coming down, so I just had to keep going there's nothing else I could do," he said.

Police had been concerned about the swaying tree and closed off surrounding streets. But Mr Thomas was unknowingly driving inside the restricted area.

The camera man said he couldn’t believe how lucky Mr Thomas was. "It's just so unbelievable that he made it through," he said.

The savage storms which ripped through Marlborough, Nelson and West Coast have been reported as the biggest event to hit the region in the last 20 years, and left one person dead.

AMI Insurance Tasman district manager Graeme Duncan said it would spark millions of dollars worth of insurance claims. More than 10,000 homes and businesses lost power on Wednesday and hundreds of were still without power or water supplies on Friday.

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