Nanaimo marks 135 years since B.C.'s deadliest mining disaster

A plaque commemorating the men who died in the mine stands at 1151 Milton St. in Nanaimo, B.C. (City of Nanaimo)

The City of Nanaimo is preparing to mark 135 years since a pair of explosions killed 150 people in British Columbia's deadliest mining disaster.

Nanaimo facilities will lower their flags to half-mast Tuesday in honour of those killed in the May 3, 1887 explosions at the No. 1 Esplanade coal mine.

The explosions triggered an underground fire that burned 260 metres below the city's waterfront for two weeks, the city said in a statement Monday.

The bodies of seven of the men working in the mine were never recovered "and remain somewhere beneath the Nanaimo Harbour to this day," the city said.

"This tragic accident took the lives of 150 miners, creating a massive impact to a community of approximately only 2,000 people at the time."

The explosions were blamed on a badly planted explosive charge that ignited coal dust that had accumulated in the mine.

The event is considered the second-worst industrial accident in Canadian history, after the Hillcrest, Alta., mine blast that killed 189 miners in 1914.

A plaque commemorating the men who died in the mine stands at 1151 Milton St.

Residents are invited to visit the Nanaimo Museum's coal mine exhibit to learn more about the deadly disaster and Nanaimo's mining history.