HER mother may have been sent into labour during one of the biggest earthquakes to hit New Zealand in the last decade.

The family was forced to flee its home in Christchurch after they were left without drinking water for four months and the land around their home turned to quicksand.

But, to look at little Katie Aston, you would never know the destruction she has witnessed in the first eight months of her life.

Mother Emily Aston, originally from Faringdon, was sent into labour two weeks early during one of the huge aftershocks to hit Christchurch after the September earthquake, which measured 7.1 on the Richter scale.

But it was only in the wake of the devastation left by February’s quake, which killed 172 people, that Mrs Aston her husband Mike, 47, and son Jamie, four, decided enough was enough and moved back to Oxfordshire.

Mrs Aston said: “When the September earthquake hit there were two huge aftershocks, one which measured 5.4 and one which measured 5.2.

“It was the second one which broke my waters. I was then in labour for 28 hours, while the aftershocks were still happening. It was absolutely awful.

“When I was pregnant the midwife had joked that if an earthquake hit while I was in labour I was in the safest place as the hospital is the only quake-proof building in the area.

“I did not feel unsafe, I was just very, very worried about Jamie because he was away at a friend’s house.

“It was the months after which made our minds up for us. We did not expect it to be as dangerous as it was.

“We thought September would be as bad as it would get, but after February, the place was completely devastated.”

The couple said after February’s 6.1 quake, their home town was left looking like a war zone. They were without water for three months, and had to dig deep latrine pits in their gardens.

When that became too unsanitary, the government shipped in thousands of mobile toilets, and assigned one for every street.

With even bottled water in scant supply, thousands of people were struck down with stomach bugs, and at one point the couple were unable to leave their home because the land around it had turned to quicksand.

Mrs Aston said: “We did not take pictures because we just do not want to remember it. Thankfully, we had a choice and were able to come back to Faringdon. We are very happy to be back and our family are very relieved to have us home.

“It was a bit of a dream of ours to move to New Zealand, and it is an amazing place, but we won’t be returning in a hurry.”