On this day: the 1931 Hawke’s Bay earthquake

Hastings_Post_Office_1931Hastings, New Zealand post office damaged by the earthquake of 1931.

Damage at the post office in Hastings

Also known as the Napier earthquake, the Hawke’s Bay earthquake lasted for two and a half minutes on the morning of the 3rd of February, 1931. It remains New Zealand’s deadliest natural disaster.

256 people were killed: 161 in Napier, 93 in Hastings and two in Wairoa. Thousands were injured.

Hawkes_Bay_Tribune_1931Hawkes Bay Tribune building in Hastings, New Zealand, damaged by the earthquake of 1931.

Damage to the Hawkes Bay Tribune building

The death toll would likely had been higher if the Royal Navy’s HMS Veronica had not been in port at the time and able to radio for help.

In the following two weeks there were 525 aftershocks.