An unidentified woman walks past the bell tower before a ceremony to mark the 100th anniversary of the Halifax Explosion at Fort Needham Memorial Park in Halifax on Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

Catastrophic Halifax Explosion, 100 years later

Nova Scotia capital commemorates catastrophic Halifax Explosion 100 years ago

Poets and politicians remembered those who died and those who struggled to rebuild a shattered city as a sombre ceremony was held Wednesday to mark 100 years since the Halifax Explosion.

The wartime blast resulted from a collision of two ships in the harbour that led to approximately 2,000 deaths and an estimated 9,000 wounded.

A large crowd turned out in cold rain at the Fort Needham memorial site, not far from where the French ship SS Mont-Blanc erupted and wiped out the city’s north end and a Mi’kmaq village across the harbour.

A bell was rung at the precise minute of the explosion’s anniversary, while a cannon was fired from Citadel Hill and many city residents fell silent for a minute.

George Elliott Clarke recited a poem recalling the poignant moments leading up to the 9:04 a.m. detonation, including the imagined last goodbyes of children as they went off to school.

Mayor Mike Savage asked spectators to remember those “who lived 100 years ago, those who were killed, those who survived and those who rebuilt.”

The Dec. 6, 1917, catastrophe remains the worst human-made disaster in Canadian history and was the largest artificial blast prior to the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima.

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