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KAIMAI TUNNEL COLLAPSE
TUESDAY 24 FEBRUARY 1970

The Kaimai tunnel was built in the late 1960s/early 1970s to enable rail traffic a much shorter journey to the port at Tauranga.

During mid-afternoon of Tuesday 24 February 1970 part of the western end of the Kaimai tunnel collapsed during construction, killing four men and trapping seven others.

"Lady Luck" assisted with the 80-hour rescue. The lighting system in the tunnel continued to function, despite the rock fall, and the trapped men had enough equipment in the intact protion of the tunnel to help with the escape. While a dragline was excavating material above the collapse it uncovered a hole leading toward the top of the tunnel. An escape shaft was able to be driven through this saving many valuable hours. Also the weather stayed fine throughout the rescue attempt.

Today the tunnel is no longer used by passenger trains but is well used for freight.

THOSE THAT DIED IN THE COLLAPSE OF THE KAIMAI TUNNEL
CLARKSON Peter James 21 New Zealand
LEIGHTON Alfred - Matamata, New Zealand
McGREGOR Donald Alexander 31 Robertson, NSW, Australia
SMART James 28 Fife, Scotland

THOSE THAT SURVIVED THE COLLAPSE OF THE KAIMAI TUNNEL
GILHEANY William - Ireland
GRASON Lyn 23 Matamata, New Zealand
HEMOPO Murray - -
HESTER Martin - Matamata, New Zealand
KELLY Patrick - County Leitram, Ireland
McLEAY Gordon - Matamata, New Zealand
NEELY Hubert - -


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