One hundred years ago this day, Tasmania encountered its worst mining disaster when 42 miners died underground in the Mt Lyell mining tragedy. Today, the town stood still to commemorate the centenary of the ill-fated event.
Historian Geoffrey Blainey, who recaptured the mining blow in his book titled The Peaks of Lyell, told the crowd the accident was one of Australia's most heroic peacetime episodes, the AAP reported.
Scores of descendants and families of victims, survivors and rescuers gathered in Tasmania's west coast community to commemorate the tragedy.
Organizers held the memorial service at the site of the original shaft which has long been buried under tonnes of rock, ABC Radio Australia reported.
The town and the people present during the commemoration all stood still, engulfed in complete silence, as sirens and church bells rang at 10:35 a.m., the exact time the fire broke out 100 years ago.
Norma O'Brien, a granddaughter of Richard Treverton, one of the victims of the mining tragedy, told AAP the experience "was very emotional, extremely emotional."
Her grandfather could have been alive after the accident, but he chose to save others.
"He gave up his place in the shafts that were going up. Then after that he wasn't able to get out himself," said Ms O'Brien, who travelled from Victoria to Queenstown for the first time just to be able to personally attend the commemoration of the tragedy's centenary.
"We were always brought up that he saved many of the others' lives before he lost his own life. It was always a proud thing in our household."
Organizers led by Vedanta Copper Mines of Tasmania General Manager Scot Clyde told ABC Radio Australia they have recreated the original funeral train, taking visitors and descendants to through the town cemetery.
"A lot of people have made a great effort to be here today and we've been a bit taken aback by the strength of feeling and the appreciation of what we've done today with the memorial plaque, and having this service," he said.
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