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WRECKS AND LOSS OF LIFE AT TIMARU.

BY OUR SPECIAL REPORTER.] By Telegraph. Txmaeu, To-day. Timaru has been saddened by one of the most terrible shipping disasters the port has yet experienced. Two fine vessels, the City of Perth and the Benvenue, were lost on Sunday, and the lives of seven brave fellows were sacrificed at the same time. The sad story is soon told. It appears that about midnight on Saturday the sea began to rise, and although there was hardly any wind, the waves were soon rolling mountains high, and breaking with a deafening crash upon the shore, which was heard for miles. Tho vessels in port were tho Norwegian barque C. F, Punch, lying at the ballast ground, the s hips Benvenuo and City of Perth at the inner anchorage, and tho schooners Kate McGregor and Julius Yogel inside the breakwater. Between two and one a terrible sea was running, the heavy white crested breakers being seen stretching for miles. The daylight broke but the sea had not moderated, and the vessels P were seen to be riding heavily at their anchors. By this time the Timaru Rocket Brigade had assembled. At half-past eight the Benvenue parted one of her two cables, and flaw the signal of distress. Half an hour later the vessel’s head swung round to land, and she commenced to drift. Just atone o’clock, in the presence of hundreds of excited spectators, she headed direct for Caroline Bay, and struck the rocks broadside on. Caroline Bay is within a stones throw of the lighthouse, which stands on the top of the . cliff. The City of Perth lay far away . from the Benvenue when the two ship a were at anchor, but, strange to say, when ; she parted her last cable about 2 o’clock and was abandoned, she followed directly in the wake of the Benvenue and beaded for exactly the same spot. Tho two vessels ate now lying in tho form of a T, the head lira representing the Benvenue and the perpendicular line the City of Perth. Up to this point no lives had been lost, and now came the saddest part of the sad business. Two whale-boats wore manned to sail to the Benvenue. One of these boats was manned by Captain Mills, the Harbor Master, and the other by Captain McDonald, of tho City of Perth. At this time the Benvenuo was hanging to a stout hawser only, her cables having'parted/ and the boat’s-crew reached too late to be of any avail. The cry went up, “She’s gone.” Three boats could be seen coming from her. The third boat contained Captain McDonald and two or three of his men, who had jumped into it to lighten the other boats, amidst the almost breathless excitement of the people on the densely-lined breakwater and the cliffs. The three boats came on. The two loading boats had almost gained the shore , when a tremendous breaker swamped the third boat, occupied by Captain McDonald’ and men. Tho other two boats then went 1 ” to the assistance of the drowning but boforo they could reach them, all of ” the three boats were floating bottom up, in a raging surf, with men dashed here”' and there like bits of straw. Fifteen brave fellows were now battling for life, - and the crowds of onlookers could not help, f them. Then a life-boat was launched,' ) and a crew composed of D. Bradley, J A. J. M'lntosh, and A. Shaw (storeman),. _ and four seamen from the City of Perth, J ’ put off amidst such ringing cheers as Timaru never knew before. The men were saved—all who were left—but the . boat was swamped three times in endeavoring to get back to the shore; each " time fewer men were left. The remnant of the saved returned to shore amidst deafening cheers, but in such a dreadful .. state, braised and bleeding, and half dead, that the spectators sickened at tho sight. Then arose the terrible question—- “ Who has gone ? ” and it was found the following were missing :— Robert Gar-, doner, of Alloa, second mate of the City of Perth, single, aged 25; and D. M‘Lean, of Prince Edward’s Island, carpenter of tho same vessel, married ; Wil- ;; liam M'Laren, waterman, Timaru ; Edward Neilson, boatman, Timaru ; Martin 1 Beach, boatman, Timaru ; Harry M‘Donald, boatman, Timaru; and A. Mills, Harbor Master, who was brought ashore alive, but died very soon after. Tlie City of Perth was loading wheat for Home for the New Zealand Grain Agency and Mercantile Corn* pany Limited, and had 6,000 sacks of V wheat aboard, which was fully insured in tho Union. Tho vessel was worth LIO,OOO The Benvenuo was bringing a cargo of coal for Timaru, and 99D tons, and owned by a Glasgow firm. The hull and freight were insured in D ome offices for L 13.500. The coals were insured in the Standard office. Great indignation is expressed with the Harbor Board at not having proper appliances at hand. If a steam launch had been at hand, it is thought that both veseis might have been saved. This make? four Home ships lost at Timaru in about as many months. The Harbor Board’s excuses about the others, are that - they were unsound, or that their Joss is ... due to the negligence of those in command, hut this is plainly a case of wreck due totally and solely to tho bad management of the Board. Captain Mills was charged indirectly with cowardice by the Board when the Duke of Sutherland was lost the other day, bat his character is cleared now from the charge. Neatly all were unanimous in declaring how unwarranted and unjust these charges were. Captain Mills has been Harbor Master for many years, and is an old identity, and greatly .., respected. The Hurl or Board lately resolved to dispense with his s. rvices, but altered their minds, and at the last meeting resolved to re appoint Captain Mills with LSO addition to his yearly salary.

He was forty-eight years old, and leaves a wife and young family. Crowds of

people are still on the breakwater and cliffs, and appear generally unseit cd. The ships cargoes arc not touched, but it is thought that some part had drifted ashore. None of the drowned are recovered yet. Boats are out after them now. Public feeling ran so high against the Harbor Board last night that the mob threatened to lynch the members of the Board if they showed themselves on the breakwater; It is said that if any of the

latter body had appeared they would hav been slung over the breakwater into th . sea. There were no proper appliances a hand at all, not even lines or lifebelts fo the boat when it went to the rescue of th two other boats. Very likely an indigna . ! tion meeting will be held. Everyone i ' talking of the conduct of the Board. Ai the wind is blowing out to sea it is no: improbable that the bodies will be washec fai out. Later. The excitement here is still very great, and the scene of the wreck was visited by numbers of people during the day. The Ben venue has several holes in her bottom, and presents a generally battered appearance. The City of Perth has slightly altered her position, and now jams against the prostrate Benvcnue at every wave. The water around is covered with small wreckage, ’ and the beach also. It seems a thousand pities to see so fine a vessel as the City of Perth, which is as yet hardly at all injured to all appearance, lying helplessly aground. She still keeps her erect position. There is some talk of a tug coming up from the South to-day to pull off the City of Perth, but‘laden as she is with grain, no tug would get her off, and she cannot be unloaded while the present heavy sea is running. She will, it is feared, share the fate of the Benvenue. No bodies have yet been recovered, and very probably they never will all be recovered. Anything fresh occurring I will wire up to the time of . your going to press. A special meeting of the Harbor Board was held this morn-

ing, but nothing important was done beside the appointment of a temporary , Harbor Master. Flags are all half-mast high to-day in respect for Captain Mills. The inquest on his body will probably be held to-morrow, and he will be buried tomorrow with military honors. There is a rumor about town that an eighth man is missing, belonging to the Landing Service. The mate of the City of Perth, who broke two legs bending a hawser, is not .expected to live.

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Permanent link to this item

http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/AG18820515.2.15

Bibliographic details

WRECKS AND LOSS OF LIFE AT TIMARU., Ashburton Guardian, Volume III, Issue 636, 15 May 1882

Word Count
1,453

WRECKS AND LOSS OF LIFE AT TIMARU. Ashburton Guardian, Volume III, Issue 636, 15 May 1882

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