When I’m working on my computer, my nights tend to stretch until daylight, and that’s how the earthquake found my girlfriend and me still sleeping. We were jolted awake: The wardrobe door was banging, the walls were shaking, and the whole building was wobbling. Outside we could hear screaming and glass shattering. Momentarily, I thought of diving out of the window, then remembered we were on the fifth floor and decided to take my chance down the stairs. We reached the willow tree in the middle of the courtyard and stood there, transfixed, as the ground convulsed, the building swayed and rattled, and bits of concrete spewed out. I could smell dust. And as the ground juddered, for more than five minutes, the thought that I was going to die became more distinct.

Then it was over,… More…