Explosion in Welsh colliery
Activity around the pit-head in the aftermath of the explosion Photo: Illustrated London News [London, England], 18 October 1913

Explosion in Welsh colliery

Published: 15 October 1913

Hundreds of lives are thought to have been lost at the Universal Colliery at Senghenhydd in South Wales. At around 8am this morning, there was an explosion in the west section of the pit, which started a fire and out of the 935 men who descended this morning, over 400 are still unaccounted for.

Women and children keep a vigil at the pit-head, praying for their loved ones to emerge alive.
(Image: Illustrated London News [London, England], 18 October 1913)

Colliery officials arrived quickly on the scene to survey the damage and rescuers have been working heroically to free the entombed men. They were hampered by afterdamp and foul air, however, and as reports spread that the fire was worsening, hope faded for those men still trapped. 

The bravey of the volunteer rescuers: before descent (left), being lowered down into the pit (centre) and emerging from the depths
(Image: Illustrated London News [London, England], 18 October 1913)

The pit-head has been a scene of frenzied activity all day and into the evening, and nearby, women and children, friends and family await for word on their loved ones. So central was the mine to the economy of Senghenhydd that very few families in the town and the surrounding region are untouched by the tragedy.

Special trains have been commissioned to take the rescued men to Cardiff Infirmary.

A casualty of the disaster being carried on a stretcher (left) and ambulancemen ready to treat any survivors
(Image: Illustrated London News [London, England], 18 October 1913)

King George has, this evening, sent a telegram to Dr W.H. Atkinson, Inspector of Mines in the South Wales region: "The Queen and I are appalled at the news of the terrible disaster which occurred this morning... We deeply sympathise with the families who have lost their dear ones, and will be grateful for any particulars regarding the condition of the injured."


Century Ireland

The Century Ireland project is an online historical newspaper that tells the story of the events of Irish life a century ago.