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.
|CLARKSON||Peter James||21||New Zealand|
|LEIGHTON||Alfred||-||Matamata, New Zealand|
|McGREGOR||Donald Alexander||31||Robertson, NSW, Australia|
|GRASON||Lyn||23||Matamata, New Zealand|
|HESTER||Martin||-||Matamata, New Zealand|
|KELLY||Patrick||-||County Leitram, Ireland|
|McLEAY||Gordon||-||Matamata, New Zealand|
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