A woman who lay trapped and injured beneath the rubble of the CTV building told her husband that she wasn't scared because she had faith that rescuers would reach her.
But they didn't get there in time.
Today the husband of Tamara Cvetanova told an inquest about the phone calls the couple made to each other before she died.
Alec Cvetanov spent the hours after the February 22 quake frantically trying to call his wife, but it wasn't until nearly 10 hours later that he finally managed to get through to her and confirm his worst fears - that she was trapped in the collapsed CTV building.
“She had lost the tips of four fingers on her left hand but was otherwise uninjured and fine,” Mr Cvetanov says. “She was not scared because I had told her the police and fire services were trying to rescue her.”
Ms Cvetanova told her husband she was with four other women in her third-floor classroom which had been reduced to a small tunnel.
Mr Cvetanov told the hearing his wife could hear engine noises, so he decided to climb up on the rubble where he thought she may be buried.
“Tamara told me she could hear my knocks. Tamara told me she could even hear me shouting out her name from outside the top of the building.”
But Mr Cvetanov says not long after that he was ordered off the site and forced to stay on the other side of the road.
He says he tried asking three police officers who was in charge so he could let them know Ms Cvetanova was alive and where she was.
“None of them told me who was in charge. One of them even said to me it looked like to him that there were more chiefs than Indians.”
Mr Cvetanov told the hearing he doesn't know what killed his wife, but he believes the slow, uncoordinated rescue effort contributed to her death.
“I want people involved with rescue services in New Zealand to learn from Tamara's death so that somebody else does not die in similar circumstances in the future.”
The inquest will continue for the rest of the week.