Buller Gorge Swingbridge
Elsewhere in the Buller Gorge fissures opened in the ground and slips came down from cliffs or steep slopes. The Buller river was, for a time, reduced to a trickle by blockages up toward Murchison and in the Maruia valley. Fortunately those were breached gradually instead of bursting away suddenly and causing greater devastation.
Reports that a nearby mountain known as the Old Man had been toppled turned out to be unfounded - the Old Man can still be seen up the gorge. However, hundreds of local people had their homes destroyed and lives devastated. Seventeen people were killed, most engulfed by landslides as far away as Seddonville on the West Coast. At Whale Creek flat, three children and a teacher escaped from their classroom just before boulders, tree debris and mud swept it away.
Three men working in a river diversion tunnel through the neck of the peninsula also had a terrifying experience, but fortunately their exit was not blocked.
Looking back later, people realised that booming noises heard during the days leading up to the earthquake had been forerunners to it, not blasting on the railway or farms as thought at the time. two years later, a massive death toll in the Hawke' Bay earthquake emphasised what loss of life there would have been if the Murchison event had happened in a highly populated area.