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The Chasnala Mine Disaster occurred on the evening of 27 December 1975, and killed 372 miners in Dhanbad, India. 

Explosion and Flood

On 27 December 1975, an explosion rocked the Chasnala Colliery in Dhanbad, India.  The explosion was most likely caused by sparks from equipment igniting a pocket of flammable methane gas.  Even a small spark can ignite the surges of gas that may suddenly fill a mine.  Clouds of coal dust raised by the explosion and accompanying shock wave contribute to these sorts of mine explosions, making the flames self-sustaining. 

The Chasnala Colliery explosion was so severe that the mine collapsed, and millions of gallons of water from a nearby reservoir rushed into the pits at a rate of seven million gallons per minute.  Those miners who weren’t killed in the blast now found themselves trapped under debris, or drowned as the water quickly filled the mine.  Rescue workers continued their efforts to dig out bodies and survivors until 19 January 1976.  Sadly, there were no survivors, and most of the bodies were never recovered.

Aftermath

The local workers’ union claimed a total death toll of almost 700 people.  The government’s official death toll, however, is 372.  The Chasnala Colliery’s records were poorly kept, and many bodies were never recovered, so there is no way of knowing how many miners actually perished in the Chasnala Mine Disaster.  The India Iron and Steel Company, who owned the Chasnala Colliery, has said that it conformed to international mining standards in the construction and maintenance of  the Chasnala Colliery.

The Chasnala Disaster inspired the 1979 film Kaala Patthar, directed by Yash Chopra.

The Chasnala Disaster was one of the worst in Indian history.  The nationalization of Indian mining since then has contributed to a significant decrease in the incidence of mining accidents in that country. 

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