The New York Times, October 15, 1913:|
400 WELSH MINERS ARE PROBABLY DEADExplosion, Followed by Fire and Afterdamp, in a Colliery Near Cardiff.
ABOUT 500 MEN RESCUED
No Hope for Those Still in the Mine--
Fire Prevents Rescue Parties from Making Any Progress.
Special Cable to The New York Times.
LONDON, Oct. 14.--The greatest disaster that has ever befallen a British mine occurred this morning at the Universal Colliery at Sengenhydd, South Wales, eight miles from Cardiff. It is feared that over 400 miners perished in the burning pit.
At 6 A.M. 935 miners descended the Lancaster and York pits. Two hours later an explosion in the Lancaster pit demolished the pithead gear, shook the entire town, and alarmed the countryside.
One-half of the Lancaster pit was immediately a mass of flames. Rescue operations resulted in 498 men being brought up alive. Fifteen bodies have been recovered. The others have not been located, owing to the tremendous falls of roof, the deadly effects of the afterdamp, and the raging flames. The rescue work was abandoned for a time in order to fight the flames, which blocked the intake airway. The entombed men could not be reached until the flames were overcome.
The cause of the explosion has not been determined. It was so violent that the head of a bankman was blown from his body.
It was soon apparent that there was no hope for the entombed men. The hills round about became black with people. Rescue parties rushed from all the pits in the neighborhood, and apparatus was carried by eager helpers over the mountains. At night it was decided to seal that portion of the mine in which the men are entombed.
Twelve years ago an explosion at the same place resulted in the loss of eighty lives. Fifty yards from the Lancashire pits rises the winding gear of the York pit. Fortunately, this escaped injury.
Preparations were immediately made for rescue parties to descend. There was no lack of volunteers. Hundreds of brave miners were eager to face death underground in the hope of rescuing their comrades.
Soon after the first rescue parties were lowered came the news that of the 900 men who had gone down the York pit nearly 500 were safe. They were brought to the surface in batches of twenty and were seized, hugged and kissed by their women-folk in a delirium of joy.
But the cage also brought up charred and mangled bodies found by the search parties of the fringe of the explosion area. Only two bodies were identified. The others were blown to pieces. A woman shrieked, as one corpse passed on a rough litter, the sack covering being momentarily displaced and the features revealed, "He was my husband!"
A dozen men brought up were still alive but badly injured. They were rushed on a special train to the Cardiff General Hospital. The village carpenter's shop was converted into a mortuary.
Edward Shaw, the mine manager and leader of the first rescue party, had his eyes badly affected. Splendid work was done by the men in fighting the fire 1,500 feet underground. It bore fruit at 9 o'clock, when Managing Director W.T. Rees announced that the fire was under control. Four shifts of men were engaged in the rescue work.
Forty thousand persons surround the pithead to-night. Long trains left Cardiff half hourly to-day, filled mainly with women going to the scene of the disaster. Five thousand waited for news at the Cardiff station. One woman, a pathetic figure, has been waiting at the pithead for hours. Her husband, four sons, and three brothers are in the burning pit.
The King has sent a telegram to Dr. W.N. Atkinson, Mines Inspector, expressing his and the Queen's sympathy with the bereaved families.
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