Holiday to mark 100 years since start of influenza pandemic in Samoa

A public holiday has been declared for Wednesday in Samoa, to mark 100 years since the start of the influenza pandemic that killed about a fifth of the population.

On 7 November, 1918, the SS Talune arrived in Apia with sick passengers on board.

The New Zealand administrators allowed the Talune in with no quarantine checks, and the disease spread rapidly, killing an estimated 20 percent of the population – at least 8,500 people – in less than two months.

The bumbling handling of the outbreak and the indifference of the colonial administrator, Robert Logan, was a catalyst for a movement against New Zealand rule.

Samoa’s government said the commemoration will be marked with a public holiday, church service and ceremony at the mass grave at Vaimea, one of dozens of mass graves that dot the country.

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