on the 24th of December 1953, 285 people boarded the Wellington to Auckland night express train to see their families over Christmas. The train leaves at 3pm
At 8:02 pm the rims of ruapehu's crater lake gave way causing a lahar rushing into the Whangaehu river. The river was so forceful it washed away pier 4 of the bridge.
The train not knowing this had happened rocketed to its death. At 10:21 pm the express consisting of one engine, nine carriages and two vans was travelling at 60 km/ph was heading straight for the weakened bridge.
As the express left the bank the rest of the bridge collapsed and the engine nose dived off the edge into the air almost hitting the other side. The first 5 carriages followed, flinging upwards before plummeting into the flooded water.
Cyril Ellis and William Inglis were the first at the scene of the accident. They climbed into one of the train carriages that was still on the tracks to warn the passengers but almost immediately the the carriage they were on fell in the water. When it came to a rest in the water Inglis and Ellis smash the window and saved as many passengers as they could. as the flooding water receded the survivors were able to form a human chain
on the 24th of December, New Zealand lost 151 people in one of the most deadly train wrecks in the world at this time. on this day every year families take time to remember family member who died in the crash at the memorial located in Ohakune