facebook   twitter   mail  

The Nelson Photo News



Earthquake Shatters Inangahua

It happened on Friday, May 24, at 5.24 a.m. In the little township of Inangahua the morning calm was shattered by a tremendous rumble and an earth upheaval that bounced houses and buildings about as if they were toys. Residents, rudely awakened, have since told of frightening experiences - of being tossed around inside bedrooms and in pitch darkness while the children screamed and chimneys, crockery and furniture tumbled. It was not until first light, however, that the extent of the damage and the magnitude of the earthquake was discovered. A home close to the township was carried away by a huge slip and a woman inside it was killed. Telephone communications were disrupted and power was cut, and it was not until New Zealand Electricity Department engineers were flown to Inangahua about two hours after the main quake that the world first learned of the devastating effect of the quake. To aggravate an already intolerable situation, a huge slip blocked the Buller River at Dublin Terrace, and as the water backed up to form a big lake, fears were held that when it burst through the dam, the flood waters would sweep through the township. And so the town's residents were evacuated. Since roads were impassable, and the railway too, helicopters were used to lift evacuees to Reefton.

In this picture story we have concentrated on the Inangahua district and the devastation in the Buller Gorge. We have endeavoured, also, to restrict the coverage, as far as possible, to pictures which have not been published before.


Inangahua, Friday May 24. A huge slip has cut the road from Inangahua to Westport, and, beside it, another threatens the hotel (big building top left).