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A Moo For Help: Earthquake in New Zealand Leaves 3 Cows Stranded

Nov 16, 2016 06:50 AM EST
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The Internet will always have a ready supply of animal videos for people to enjoy. Who could forget recent viral videos like the dramatic Penguin Love Triangle and death defying Iguana Jones. Now, another animal video has caught the attention of the internet on the heels of a natural disaster. Helicopter footage captured over the demolished farmlands outside the New Zealand town of Kaikoura has revealed three cows stranded on their very own "island" after Monday's devastating magnitude 7.5 earthquake.

These three cows were huddled together on a small patch of land while the earthquake went on, crumbling the ground surrounding them to form an isolated island. The island was between 50 and 80 metres across. Newshub camera operator Chris Jones, who filmed the cows while in a helicopter, said they didn't want to spook them as they flew by. "It was clear that the cows had slipped down on this big chunk of land. The cattle had obviously ridden these islands of land, and there's this group of cows suspended 20 feet in the air."

Their owner, a Kaikoura farmer who preferred to stay anonymous, was grateful to have saved a total of 14 cows, the three stranded cows included. They most likely wouldn't have survived long on such a small patch of grass. The farmer, however, still lost a few cows during the earthquake. "We did lose stock, there were stock losses, but the whole hillside fell during the earthquake and we had a lot of stock on there - we don't know what we've got," he said. "It was very steep limestone bluff covered in lovely pasture a week ago and now it's all in the gully."

To the collective relief of the Internet, the cows were rescued. However, they had to remain as they were for a day while the safety of the area was assessed. "The problem was we weren't sure if there was going to be another earthquake, and we weren't sure if it was going to continue to slide, that's why we delayed going in. It wasn't because we didn't want to," the farmer told Newshub.

While the cows got out of the ordeal more or less unscathed, two people have died, and more than 1,000 have been separated from their homes on the South Island of the country. Several aftershocks at magnitude 6.0 or higher have been affecting the area too, and Kaikoura had been left without functioning roads, trains, or even water supplies.

"We currently calculate a 12 percent probability of a magnitude 7 or larger earthquake within the next day, and 32 percent within the next 30 days," John Ristau at GNS Science, New Zealand's geoscience research and consultancy firm, told New Scientist. "An earthquake like this can increase the risk of a major earthquake nearby, although it can also decrease stress on a nearby fault and lessen the risk."

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