Mount Lyell disaster questioned

The cause of the Mount Lyell mining disaster is being questioned on the eve of its centenary.

The fire which broke out in the North Lyell mine in October 1912 killed 42 miners and trapped about a hundred more underground.

A Royal Commission delivered an open finding but the company accused an employee of lighting the fire, the ABC reported.

In a book written 50 years ago, historian Geoffrey Blainey argued that the fire was deliberately lit.

"Not with the idea of causing death but with the idea of causing a shock," he said.

However in a new book about the disaster set for release this week, former MP Peter Schultz raises questions about the validity of blaming an employee.

In an interview with 730 Tasmania, Schultz said he wants to set the record straight about the company’s claim.

"They suppressed evidence of a number of electrical fires that had already occurred in the underground pump station," Schultz said.

"The commission said there'd only been one electrical fire when there was evidence of five electrical fires and the pump station was extremely dangerous electrically.

"There were no fuses in the control circuits and on two of the previous occasions where there had been fires, they had to switch off the power to be able to put the fires out."

The disaster is being commemorated with an exhibition by Tasmania’s state archives.

State archivist, Ross Latham, says there are photographs, film footage, documents and recorded readings of original letters.

"I'm very pleased that a 100 years later we're in a position to be able to commemorate the event in such a comprehensive way and have all the resources in our collection to put it out there, so that people can learn from the experience but also commemorate the significant loss of life," he said.

Relatives of miners, many who were Victorian, are travelling to Queenstown for the centenary.

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