A man who died of crush injuries was trying to escape the historic Elms Homestead as it toppled down during the 7.8-magnitude Kaikōura earthquake.

The coroner's report into the death of Albert Louis Edgar has been released today, more than two years after he was killed in the violent quake on November 14, 2016.

The devastating tremor hit just after midnight, cutting off the seaside tourist town and changing the pristine area's landscape, and seascape, forever.

The 74-year-old, known as Louis, was one of two fatalities in the disaster.

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The other was Jo-Anne MacKinnon, who died in her Mt Lyford home after receiving a head injury.

READ MORE: One year on: Mother farewells daughter killed in Kaikōura quake

Coroner Marcus Elliott said that Edgar died in a two-storey homestead that was first built in the 1870s with unreinforced concrete that contained river shingle.

The coroner found that no building consents or code compliance certificates had been issued for the building since at least 1944.

Any records prior to that year had been destroyed in a fire at the council building.

"Mr Edgar's death highlights the dangers associated with the collapse of old buildings in an earthquake," the coroner said.

"The failure of such buildings resulted in the deaths of 39 people in the earthquake in Christchurch on February 22, 2011.

"People who use and occupy buildings constructed of unreinforced masonry face the risk of injury or death in a large earthquake."

In the coroner's report, Edgar's wife Pam told police about the horrifying moments the earthquake tore a part the home they shared with his mother Margaret Edgar.

Louis Edgar died in the Kaikoura quake.
Louis Edgar died in the Kaikoura quake.

She recalled attempting to check on her mother-in-law.

"As I got out of my bedroom I wanted to go left but I got thrown right, and thrown up against the wall so I didn't get to check on her.

"I yelled out to Louis several times, but he didn't hear me.

"By that time everything was falling around me …

"Once things started to settle I looked up and I could see a palm tree so I knew the top storey of the house had fallen…

"I could see the remains of the top storey on the bedroom area."

Margaret Edgar was later rescued from the debris of the flattened home and was taken to Kaikōura Hospital.

She died in April 2017 - the same year in which she turned 100.