Today marks the 100th anniversary of one of the worst mining disasters ever, and certainly the worst in Wales.
“Britain’s worst ever mining disaster has been remembered a century after 439 miners and one rescuer lost their lives in an explosion at Senghenydd in South Wales.
A new monument has been unveiled on the site of the old mine and a memorial garden opened to remember more than 5,000 miners killed in accidents across Wales since the 18th century.” http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-24516312
The explosion killed almost the entire male population of the town.
“The demand for Welsh steam coal before World War I was enormous, driven by the Royal Navy and its huge fleet of steam battleships, dreadnoughts and cruisers, and by foreign Navies allied to Britain and the British Empire.
Coal output from British mines peaked in 1914, and there were a large number of accidents around this time.
The worst was at the Universal Colliery and occurred as a result of a coal dust explosion that travelled through most of the underground workings.
The explosion was probably started by firedamp (methane) being ignited, possibly by electric sparking from equipment such as electric bell signalling gear.
The initial explosion disturbed coal dust present on the floor, raising a cloud that then also ignited. The shock wave ahead of the explosion raised yet more coal dust, so that the explosion was effectively self-fuelling.
Those miners not killed immediately by the fire and explosion would have died quickly from afterdamp, the noxious gases formed by combustion. These include lethal quantities of carbon monoxide, which kills very quickly by combining preferentially with haemoglobin in the blood.
The victims are suffocated by lack of oxygen or anoxia.” http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/event-marks-100-years-senghenydd-6180656
Read more over at AmeriCymru: Senghennydd Mine Disaster