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The Senghenydd Colliery Disaster occurred in Senghenydd, near Carephilly, Glamorgan, South Wales on 14 October 1913 when sparks, possibly from equipment, ignited methane gas and coal dust within the mine.  439 miners were killed in what was the worst mining disaster in the UK.

Background

There were a large number of mining accidents in the UK at the time of the Senghenydd Colliery Disaster.  UK coal production reached its peak the year after the disaster, in 1914, as a result of high demand for steam coal by the Royal Navy, as well as by foreign Navies allied to the British Empire.  The explosion at the Universal Colliery in Senghenydd was the worst of these, and remains the deadliest mine explosion in global history.

Explosion

The Senghenydd Colliery Disaster was probably caused by an explosion of firedamp (methane gas), perhaps ignited by sparks from mining equipment.  The initial firedamp explosion ignited coal dust from the floor of the mine.  The raising cloud of dust then itself ignited, worsening the blaze.  The shock wave that proceeded the flames of the explosion raised still more dust, and the fire became self-fueling. 

439 miners were killed in the Senghenydd Colliery Disaster.  Those miners not killed by the first blast would have quickly succumbed to asphyxiation due to afterdamp, the gases released by methane combustion.  These gases include carbon monoxide, which asphyxiates by attaching itself to hemoglobin in the blood.

Remembering the Dead

There are three memorials to the victims of the Senghenydd Colliery Disaster.  One is outside Nant-y-parc Primary School, which was built on the former site of the mine.  A list of names of the victims lies at St. Cenydd Comprehensive School, along with a coal truck as a memorial.  On Senghenydd Square, the names of the dead are written on the clock in the middle of the square.

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