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NEW ZEALAND DISASTERS
INANGAHUA EARTHQUAKE
24 MAY 1968

On Friday 24 May 1968, at 5.24am New Zealand was rocked by one of the most severe earthquakes in its history. The earthquake reached a magnitude of 7.1 on the Richter scale but fortunately hit a sparsely-populated area of the South Island's West Coast.

Shortly after the quake, a landslide slammed in to the farm house of Frederick John JACKSON (50), and his wife Rona. Her mother, Mrs Fanny BLACKMORE was also staying with them at the time. Mrs Jackson was caught in the landslide but Mr Jackson was able to save Mrs Blackmore. He then walked 15 miles on a broken ankle to get help. Mrs Blackmore was helicoptered to Reefton Hospital but unfortunately died of her injuries.

Just after the earthquake struck, taxi-driver Walter Guy HALES, was killed when attempting to cross a concrete bridge near Inangahua. Un-beknown to him, it had either lifted during the earthquake or the highway had subsided.

On the 29 May, two Post Office linemen involved in repairing lines brought down during the earthquake and the pilot of the Bell G2 helicopter they were in, were killed after the machine hit high voltage power lines in the Buller Gorge. The machine plummeted about 450 feet, crashing into the riverbank below before burning out completely.

Robert PEDDER, 26, was the son of Mr & Mrs J E Pedder, Motueka. He was a widower, his wife Rangimaria Edwin had died the year before.

Edward STEER, 22, eldest son of Mr & Mrs T Steer, Motueka had just graduated from junior linesman.

The pilot, Gordon HUTCHINGS, about 36 was from Nelson.

For further information see INANGAHUA EARTHQUAKE.

BLACKMORE Fanny Mrs of Christchurch aged 80 years
HALES Walter Guy Taxidriver
HUTCHINGS Gordon Helicopter Pilot
JACKSON Rona Mrs nee BLACKMORE aged 49 years
PEDDER Robert J Lines Foreman
STEER Edward T G Linesman


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