The Brunner Disaster, 1896
Seventeen years after Kaitangata came a similar happening at the Brunner Mine on the West Coast, as a result of which 67 men were killed by blast and choking gas, following the negligent and unauthorised firing of a shot in a disused section of the mine where no work should have been in progress. The explosion occurred on the morning of 26 March 1896, and after 36 hours of anxious, harrowing waiting by families and friends, and the herculean efforts of large rescue gangs, 66 bodies were brought to the surface. The last victim was located four days later. The death roll is the highest in the history of coal mining in New Zealand. In 1926 another disaster occurred at the nearby Dobson Mine, with a loss of nine lives.