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EARTHQUAKE AT WELLINGTON.

"We have received the ptitiful intelligence that tlia city of Wellington and its neighbourhood has again been visited with a most severe earthquake ; and we find that ibe shocks which hsv<. been experienced in«< Nelson during the present week, like the shocks of October, 1848, have been but the httlV-pent wave which first rose somewhere on tne shores of the southern extremity of Cook's Straits, but the exact locality of which we have yet to learn. To the arrival last night of H.M. Sloop Pandora, we owe the receipt of this intelligence ;-arid Captain Drury, with a kindness we can scarcely sufficiently acknowledge, has placed at our disposal a copy of his journal, which narrates the whole calamity as it passed under bis eye. •. To this document, which we publish in it^ entire form, we may safely refer for the history of the most dire calamity which has ever befallen New Zealand since it has been a British colony : but while on the one hand we may turn to it to learn the full extent of the disaster, as far as known when the Pandora left Wellington early on Thursday morning, it will also be most valuable for the purpose of showing the real extent of the mischief done,-' and thus prevent our readers from being misled by stories already in circulation, which magnify the calamity, great as it ha 9 been : — Extract from Commander Dkurv's Remark Book. Cook's Straita, January 23, 1855. The Anniversary of the Wellington settlement was most auspiciously celebrated— a brighter or a calmer day never beam. d on the harboin. The boat races, and every description of sports on shore, went off with much good humour and 4clat, and the only drawback was want of wind for the Bailing boats. In the evening, a light N.W. wind sprang up, which increased gradually during the night; and at 8, on the morning of the 23rd, it blew violently. The sports, however, continued, and the race- course drew nearly the whole population of "Wellington; but a dienching rain at noon jchecked the further progress of joviality, which was to be repeated on the morrow. At 11 minutes past 9 o'clock, p.m., the gale still blowing strong, we felt suddenly an uncommon and disagreeable grinding, as if the ship was grating over a rough bottom. It con* tinued with Beverity for more than a minute ; the ship clewed broadside to the wind; we were then in 6, fathoms, so there was little doubt but it was an Earthquake. Lights were seen run* ining to and fro in all parts of the towD, and evidences of consternation combined with a lo'i.l crash. Lieutenant Jones and myself immediately landed. We found the tide alternately ebbing and flowing. The firbt scene before us on landing was the Government offices, entirely destroyed, the upper story (the falling of which had caused the craßh we heard) lying on the ground ; the Btair-case, ' the Council Chamber, the papers and documents in heterogeneous confusion ;yan adjoining chemist's shop, whose simples arid compounds admixing, had a decided bias to peppermint : while the doorway of the public house was a confusion of broken bottles. The sentinel in charge of the Government building, who had just been thrown backwards and forwards, was now walking in front of the wreck with perfect sang froid, no doubt crying " All's well " to the hour. - "«---'- It is not my intention to narrate more than the general effects and disasters of this severe shock ; a'nu firstly we have to be thankful to God, that amidst the general wreck of property but one life has been sacrificed, and not more than four others seriously wounded, up to the time of our departure. This would appear astonishing to a person viewing the wreck of the houses, the mass of brickwork from the falling of be chimneys, the dixlodgcuent of furniture, the fmufaajn the earth, the extraordinary rise of tide, the entire destruction of 6ome tenements, the collapse of others, the universal sacrifice of property, and the natural terror and despair among the inhabitants, all tending to far greater personal disaster than fortunately I have to nitrate, And here I would especially dwell upon the benefit of the warning of 1848 to the inhabitants, which, under Providence, br. causing them to occupy wooden bouses, bar* been the salvation of many lives; and the hour, too, was favourable to the escape of adults, who leized the children from beneath the tottering chimneys, themselves not having; generally retired to bed-. Few, if any, lince 1848, have been raih enough to build a brick home ; the chimneys bad generally been secured v well as possible by iron braces, &c. The most substantial two- itemed house — Baron AlsdorfFs hotel — of lath and platter, buried its owner in the partial ruins. Government Houie, had it been occupied, muat have deatroyed its inmatea, for every room was a pile of brick- work, the chandeliers, &c, utterly destroyed. The guard had « wonderful escape from the guard rcom, -and the gcht' at the flagstaff turned over. I have already mentioned -the entire destruction of the Council Chamber, the upper storey being

completely severed froMe the lower; the treasury -strong boxj and the pffiers and documents apparently in irretrievable cfeufusion. * The elegant and substantial new building, the Union Bank, is, in its front, a perfect ruin, and 1 hear the damage within is not much less. Opposite this building, on the road, a considerable opening emitted slimy mud, and the main street was overflown by inundation. The most substan-tially-built wooden houses of one story, with the exception of tbe chimneys, are mainly standing. Those of less substantial calibra, (and I am sorry to lay there are many) are in a state of collapse. There is an universal destruction of crockery, bottles, &c, and a pitiful loss of valuable orna* ments, clocks, &c- Several stores are unapproachable, until neighbouring dangers are removed. The principal shock occurred at 9h, llmin., 'p.m., and it was by far the most severe. During the night scarcely half an hour elapsed without a lesser shock, more or less violent, accompanied by a deep hollow soundn but all these subsequent ones were of much shorter duration : and the t first having levelled every portion of brick-work in the lower part of the town, there was less to fear : but the inhabitants generally retroved to the open ground, and the following day the streets and gardens' were the scene of an involuntary pic •nic. From What we noticed, it appeared the elemental wave proceeded from about W.N.W. to E.S.E., that its actual effect upon terra firma was slight, and that the fissules were generally where the -road was made, although, the mud emitted from the crack at Te Aro must be considered as subterraneous deposit, from what depth not easily •decided. • From close observations on the barometer, I have no reason to believe that the effect before or after the principal shock was evident (it ranged from 29*90 to 30 00), nor that the calm preceding, or the gale attending, the earthquake, had any connexion with the subterraneous convulsions. We witnessed, during the 48 "hours following, ■every variety of wind and weather, yet with repeated shocks ; but although I would disconnect the atmospheric influence with the earthquakes, we had every reason to believe the latter had immediate local influence on tbe atmosphere, producing violent gusts after the shocks. If it is a fact that an action, or firing, will produce a local calm by the disturbance of the atmosphere, the phenomenon here may be more easily accounted for. But a more interesting and extraordinary phenomenon occurred (I say extraordinary, because no person appears to have observed it in the earthquake of 1848) : for eight hours subsequent to the first and great shock, the tide approached and receded from the shore every twenty minutes, rising from eight to ten feet, and receding four feet lower than at spring tides. One ship, I heard, was aground at her anchorage four times. The ordinary tide seemed quite at a discount, for tbe following day (24th) it scarcely rose at all. The general effects of the earthquake were evidently felt more upon the lower parts of the town ; at the Butt most severely. The bridge there was destroyed, and the houses much damaged. lam also informed the Porirua road is sunk in places. Recurring to our landing after the first sbock. Lieutenant Jones and myself went into several houses. The panic was certainly great, and many accepted the offer to go on board— .the houses we were in swinging to and fro, and the ground in a constant tremulous motion. It was sufficient to unnerve the stoutest hearts : but after a delay of three or four hours (in which we were visiting Other parts of the town), on returning to the par. ties who had accepted an asylum on board, we found one and all had determined to abide on shore — indeed they were getting accustomed to it. The wives would not desert the husbands, and the husbands would not desert the town. We returned to the ship at 2, a.m., the tide having at that time receded about 4 feet lower Chan at ordinary spring tides. ■> On the 24th the shock continued ; but at greater intervals, as the day advanced j but the tremulous motion was continuous. The 'scene on the streets was novel ; some people standing at their thresholds, groups upon mats, clear of tbe houses, or in Cents in their gardens. Those who had suffered less than their neighbours were assiduous in rendering assistance. What a different scene would have occurred in the father land ! With shops exposed, and every temptation to plunder, there seemed to be neither fear nor thought of robbery, but a generous and manly feeling to lessen each other's burdens pervaded all^dasses, from the Superintendent to the lowest mechanic, from tbe Colonel to every soldier of the 65 th regiment ; nor can I forget to mention the ready asylum afforded by tbe merchant vessels in the harbour to the houseless and more nervous inhabitants. On the 25th, at ob. 55 mm., a.m., there was a very sharp but comparatively short shock. Having ascertained we could be of no further assistance, we weighed for Nelson, and in crossing Cook's Straits we felt one shock in 26 fathoms, at noon, off Sinclair's Head (exactly the same feeling M when at anchor), and a slighter shock in 80 fathoms, off Queen's Charlotte's Sonnd. In these events there is much to be thankful for in the absence of fire : had it been winter, the universal falling in of chimneys would have asauredly fired the wooden houses : had the first shock been an hour later, many lives would probably'have been lost, as the populace would have ' been in bed. Much fear is entertained for the soldiers at Wanganui barracks. I trust we shall find that Nelson has suffered as light ly-a"s on former occasions.

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https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/NENZC18550127.2.7

Bibliographic details

EARTHQUAKE AT WELLINGTON., Nelson Examiner and New Zealand Chronicle, Volume XIII, Issue 705, 27 January 1855

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EARTHQUAKE AT WELLINGTON. Nelson Examiner and New Zealand Chronicle, Volume XIII, Issue 705, 27 January 1855

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