Tuesday, November 16, 2010

watery wednesday" Tangawai bridge diaster


Today, we rejoice with Prince William and congratulate him on hie engagement wiht Kate. People were excited if they would visit New Zealand.

I remember another Royal visit. The Queens and it was an unexpected eventful one.

We went to the Tangiwai Disaster at Whangaehu River with the children and paid our respects to the many who died during a time before we were born.

The Tangiwai disaster on December 24, 1953 was the worst rail accident in New Zealand. The overnight North Island Main Trunk express train from Wellington to Auckland, hauled by steam locomotive KA 949, fell into the Whangaehu River. The bridge over the river had been badly damaged just minutes earlier by a lahar from Mount Ruapehu.

Cyril Ellis is credited as being a hero of the accident because his actions saved many lives. He saw that the railway bridge was damaged and ran down the track, waving his torch at the oncoming train. It is believed that his warning enabled the train driver to brake before the bridge, slowing the train sufficiently so that only the first six carriages tumbled into the river. Almost everyone in the sixth carriage survived. All following carriages stopped safely.

Of the 285 people on the train, 134 survived and 151 died. Of those that died 20 bodies were never recovered; it is believed they were washed 120 kilometres from the bridge and then down the river and out to sea.

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip were visiting New Zealand on their first royal tour when the disaster occurred. The Queen made her Christmas broadcast from Auckland, finishing with a message of sympathy to the people of New Zealand. Prince Philip attended a state funeral for many of the victims.



Ginny Hartzler said...

Goodness, I had not heard of this accident! At least the train stopped in time to save some, and not all died. Abouit your comment yesterday. No, Sandra and I live hundreds of miles away in different parts of the country. It would be a drive of several days. So we have never met. But we each had our picture taken and then she edited them and put them together to make it look like we are beside each other.

Martha Z said...

It seems such a peaceful river in these shots, hard to imagine such tragedy.

RNSANE said...

Your photographs are lovely. It doesn't seem possible today that such a horrible tragedy took place there. Prayers for the families who still mourn their loved ones.

The JR said...

His quick thinking saved many lives.

Kim, USA said...

I had not heard this news too. Great information Ann. Thanks for sharing!
Watery Wednesday

Anonymous said...

Hi Ann, the red berries are on our Pyracantha bush.