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NEW ZEALAND DISASTERS AND TRAGEDIES
MATAROA, TAIHAPE, RAIL ACCIDENT
FRIDAY 8 NOVEMBER 1918 - 6.20am

On the Main Trunk Line, around 1 ½ miles north of Taihape near Mataroa, a large landslide of earth, trees and papa rocks fell on to the track at the entrance to a cutting.

The Auckland to Wellington express ploughed into this telescoping the engine and the mortuary car, mail van and the two front carriages, which were all badly smashed. Another train had passed only half an hour earlier.

The fireman had spotted the slip falling onto the line and promptly called for the brakes. Unfortunately as the train hit the slip, the two postal officials who were on duty in the mail van were killed instantly.

While the uninjured passengers were attending to the injured, another slip came down and buried the engine.

A coffin containing the body of an engine driver who was a victim of the influenza epidemic at Ohakune was being conveyed for internment. The coffin had been placed in the mortuary van next to the engine and was thrown clear of the line without any damage.

One of the victims, H Welsh, had his left thigh broken and his right foot almost severed. When told by the doctor that he could not live, he replied – “Give me a cigarette please doctor”. With this lighted he died.

Thanks to John Wilson for his help with this.

JOHNSTON F Passenger - died Taihape Hospital from injuries -
MARTIN R Postal Van Son of Caroline P MARTIN, Ponsonby
WALSH (WELSH) H Passenger - aged 70 -
WILLIAMS J H Postal Van Husband of Caroline Agnes WILLIAMS, Ponsonby

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