Rescuers free three cows stranded on tiny grass patch after New Zealand quake


WELLINGTON (REUTERS) - Three cows stranded on a small island of land after a powerful 7.8 magnitude earthquake rocked New Zealand have been led to safety by a team of rescuers, media said on Tuesday (Nov 15).

The cows' plight went viral on Monday after video shot from a helicopter showed them huddled on an elevated patch of grass near Kaikoura, about 150km north-east of Christchurch. The ground around them had apparently shifted or collapsed during the tremor.

A farmer, who said the cows were part of a group of 14 he rescued, worked with a team to dig a path for the cattle to escape after determining the land was safe, Newshub said.

"The soil was quite soft because it had all been tipped over and bumbled around, we managed to get a track in and bring them out," the unnamed farmer said.

"They desperately needed water... and I think one or two had lost calves in the earthquake so they were a bit distressed."

Kaikoura was completely cut off by massive landslips following the tremor, which struck just after midnight on Sunday, destroying homesteads and cutting road and rail links throughout the north-east of the South Island.

"We did lose stock. The whole hillside fell during the earthquake and we had a lot of stock on there - we don't know what we've got," the farmer said.