A BARRY man has narrowly escaped being caught up in the devastating earthquake that has left more than 75 people dead in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Window cleaner and magistrate John Viney, of Cadoxton, was on a two-week tour and had stopped in the South Island city before returning to Wales.

The 6.3 magnitude earthquake struck at a shallow depth of 5km (3.1 miles) on Tuesday lunchtime and has become the country's most deadly natural disaster in 80 years.

John, speaking from Sydney Airport in Australia on Tuesday - the day news of the tragedy broke, said: "I had been in Christchurch for the previous four days, staying in a hotel and visiting all these places now damaged. "I left there to fly to Sydney and missed it by 12 hours.

"I can't believe the pictures I am watching at Sydney Airport.

"The hotel I was in looks bad."

Nine firefighters from Wales have joined the relief effort following the quake.