More than 200 people gathered under wet skies at the Karoro Lawn Cemetery this morning for a service and minute's silence at 10.04am - exactly 50 years on from the Strongman Mine disaster that claimed the lives of 19 men.

Simultaneously in central Greymouth, the bell at the Clock Tower tolled 19 times.

Today marks the start of several days of commemorations to remember the January 19, 1967 disaster.

Widows and children of those killed in the mine explosion were supported by a big crowd of others associated with the mine and disaster, along with sympathisers.

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Development West Coast chairman John Sturgeon, a retired Runanga coalminer, read out the names of the 19 dead, as family and friends remembered each man.

Wreaths were laid by deputy mayor Murray Hay and 50th anniversary organising committee member Rose Green.

A function will be held at the Runanga Workingmen's Club tomorrow, followed by a visit to the Strongman Mine site at Nine Mile on Saturday morning.

A sports day and dinner is also scheduled.

Accompanied by a clergyman, mourners leave the mass grave of those killed in the mining disaster at the Strongman Mine 50 years ago today. Photo / New Zealand Herald Archives
Accompanied by a clergyman, mourners leave the mass grave of those killed in the mining disaster at the Strongman Mine 50 years ago today. Photo / New Zealand Herald Archives