Despite advancements in mining techniques and implementation of stricter safety regulations, mining accidents continue to occur across the world, resulting in deaths of thousands of miners. Mining accidents particularly occur in coal mining, as it regarded to be more hazardous than hard rock mining.
Coal mining accidents occur mainly due to presence of flat-lying rock strata, methane gas, and coal dust. As China occupies a significant share in the global coal output, the South Asian country continues to witness a huge number of accidents every year.
Benxihu Colliery disaster: Considered to be one of the worst coal mining disasters across the world, the accident caused due to a gas and coal dust explosion in the Honkeiko coal mine, located near Benxi in the Liaoning province of China. The disaster, which took place on 26 April 1942, resulted in the death of more than 1,540 miners. Most of the deaths were reported to have caused by carbon monoxide poisoning due to the closure of the ventilation system.
Courrieres coal mine disaster: Occurred on 10 March 1906, the Courrieres mine disaster led to death of 1,099 people in France. The cause of the accident was found to be a massive explosion that occurred due to an underground fire in one of the pits of the Courrieres Colliery. Following the explosion, the fire was identified around 270m underground in the Cecil pit. Ignition of methane by the flame from a miner’s lamp was suspected to one of the reasons that have caused the initial underground fire. The disaster led to the death of workers inside the mine’s deep tunnels and people on the surface.
Mitsubishi Hojyo coal mine disaster: The accident was caused by a gas explosion at the Mitsubishi Hojyo coal mine located in the Kyushu Island of Japan. The Mitsubishi Hojyo coal mine disaster, which occurred on 15 December 1914, was reported to have led to death of 687 people. The gas explosion that took place underground resulted in the release of thick black smoke through the air vents. The explosion had also affected people who were present close to the mine entrance at that time.
Laobaidong Colliery disaster: It occurred on 9 May 1960 in the Laobaidong coal mine, located near Datong in the Shanxi province of China. The Laobaidong Colliery disaster is considered to be the second worst coal mine accident after the Benxihu colliery disaster. The disaster, which was caused by the explosion of methane, led to the death of 684 people.
Mitsui Miike coal mine disaster: Killing 458 miners and leaving 833 injured, the Mitsui Miike coal mine took place on 9 November 1963. The disaster is considered to be the second worst coal mining disaster in Japan after the Mitsubishi Hojyo coal mine disaster that occurred in 1914. A massive blast, which was caused by coal dust explosion nearly 500m below the mine’s ground level entrance, led to collapse of the tunnel roof at various locations in the mine. Carbon monoxide poisoning was reported to have caused most of the deaths in the disaster.
Senghenydd Colliery disaster: Also known as the Senghenydd Explosion, the Senghenydd Colliery disaster occurred at the Universal Colliery in Senghenydd near Caerphilly, Glamorgan, Wales, on 14 October 1913. It is considered to be the worst ever mining disaster in the UK. Coal dust explosion was found to be the cause of the disaster, which killed 439 miners. Carbon monoxide poisoning led to the deaths of most of the miners who survived the fire and explosion. The explosion, which was caused by the ignition of the coal dust present on the floor, had spread to most of the underground working areas.
Wankie Colliery disaster: Occurred on 6 June 1972, the Wankie Colliery disaster in Zimbabwe, formerly Rhodesia, killed 426 people. The accident took place at the No. 2 mine shaft of the Wankie Colliery, in north-western Rhodesia. Multiple explosions in the underground coal mine had caused the disaster. Most of the deaths occurred underground due to methane and carbon monoxide fumes.
Dhanbad coal mine disaster: Occurred on 27 December 1975, the Dhanbad coal mine disaster killed 372 people. The accident took place at the Chasnala colliery, near Dhanbad. In the deep mine, a coal dust explosion result in a blast that led to the destruction of the roof barrier with a water tank above it. Flooding of water into the mine was the cause for most of the deaths in the accident.