NEW ZEALAND DISASTERS AND TRAGEDIES
KAIAPOI TRAIN DERAILMENT
SATURDAY 24 JUNE 1905
ELLESMERE GUARDIAN, VOLUME XXVIII, ISSUE 2668, 28 JUNE 1905
RAILWAY ACCIDENT - TRAIN WRECKED - TWO PERSONS KILLED.
A serious railway accident occurred on the North line on Saturday afternoon, which resulted in the death of two persons, another being seriously injured, while many were bruised and shaken.
It appears that the train for the north left Christchurch early on Saturday afternoon, and reached Belfast without meeting any unusual conditions. At Belfast it was found that the country beyond was under water, all the rivers having come down in sudden flood, in consequence of Friday's nor-wester melting very large quantities of the winter snow on the ranges.
The rails, however were above water, but the train proceeded slowly, and when about three-quarters of a mile past Belfast, the water was found to be level with the rails. The train passed in safety, but when it came to the curve known as Chaney's corner the engine suddenly pitched forward and sank down into the shingle. It is supposed that the water had carried away the permanent way, and left the rails and sleepers hanging over a deep hole.
Mr R J Alexander, the headmaster of the Kaiapoi High School, and Mr J Richards, of Camside, who had left their seats to watch the flood; were instantly killed, and Mr G Clothier, of Kaiapoi, was seriously injured. Most of the passengers jumped off the train at once, others were thrown down violently, while all received a severe shaking. The driver and stoker of the engine had quite a miraculous escape. When they found the engine going, they jumped from the left side and landed safely in the soft sand and mud. Had they chosen the right side, they would have been killed by the falling train.
KAIAPOI MUSEUM - TRAGEDY OF 1905
In mid-June 1905, there was an unseasonably warm patch of weather. This brought heavy rainsin the mountains, which when combined with snowmelt, sent a torrent of water down the mountain rivers. The Waimakariri was dangerously high in the Bealey area, almost a hundred kilometeres toward the west. By the time it was within reach of Kaiapoi, at Chaney's Corner, it was carrying a large amount of debris. The Waimakariri burst its banks, destabilising the emabankment and railway line so that neither could support the weight of an oncoming train that was travelling to Kaiapoi. It collpased killing two Kaiapoi identities - Robert Alexander, who was the Kaiapoi Borough School principal, and John Richards, a Kaiapoi contractor.
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