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DISAST.tVG0 \)1. i. •_ x i.JsuiJLOSION". HEAVY LOSS OF LIFE. t"! An explosion of gas occurred at 9 o'clock on Mon. day night at Usworth Colliery, near Newcastle, by which a lamentable loss of life has been caused. The colliery belongs to Messrs. John Bowes and partners, and is one of the well known groups situated in the high land between the lower courses of the Tyne and the Wear. The mana. ging viewer of the colliery is Mr. Alfred Palmer, brother of Mr. C. M. Palmer, M.P., who is one of the firm working the colliery. The accident occurred in the West pit of the Maudlin seam. It appears that the shifters, stonemen, fillers, and others shortly after 4 o'clock in the afternoon went down the main shaft. About MJproMeded to their work in the East pit and in the low seam, and between 30 and 40 in the West pit of the Maudlin. These included five hewers, two put. ters, three drivers, 18 shifters, four deputies, and a horsekeeper. About nine o'clock the shift-men had assembled round the mouth of the shaft, and a number of them had entered the cage to descend, when a crashing report was heard from below, followed by an up-rush of air and dust. The shock was severe, and sufficed to smash the bratticing which divides the shaft into two sections and keeps the cage in its place. Fortunately no start had been made at the time of the explosion, and the men at the pit's mouth were not injured. Great consternation pre- vailed on all sides; but not an instant was lost by the officials at the pit's mouth in endeavouring to ascertain the nature and extent of the accident. Mr. Morland, the manager, and Mr. Lindsay,the assistant viewer, were on the spot almost instantly, and communicated with Mr. Alfred Palmer. It was at once Been that the main shaft was hopelessly blocked, and that no communication with the pit could be obtained by that means. Recourse was then had to the back shaft, which was within a few yards' distance of the working one. A kibble and chains were quickly fitted up, and a band of about a dozen volunteers, headed by Mr. Morland and Mr. Lindsay, was organised to descend the mine. At the bottom of the shaft four men and boys were found. One of them, Ridley Taylor, a waggon way-man, was dead. The fire- man of the South Maudlin engine, William Howarth, was severely scalded and burnt, as well as bruised, and a few hours after his rescue he died. Among the others rescued were James Quin, a stone- man, a young man named Thomas Dodson, foreman, and a stoneman named Prest. In all six men and boys of those brought up alive have recovered. When the injured men were brought to the bank the fact that- three of them were severely scalded conveyed the im- pression that a boiler explosion might have been the cause of the accident, and hopes were for a moment entertained that the rest of the men in the West pit would be in safety. This belief was strengthened by the circumstance that the men employed in the East Pit knew absolutely nothing of the explosion for some time after the occurrence. They were conscious of nothing more than a sharp report, not unlike what would have been caused by a somewhat heavy fall of coal. The idea had, however, unfortunately to be abandoned, and all hope for the safety of the men in the West Pit was given np. Thirty-lives are thus supposed to have been lost. The falls of coal and stone have been such that it is feared several days will elapse before the bodies of the miners are reached. The following narrative has been given by Richard iTey, stonemason I was employed in the East Pit, I about two miles in. We were putting in props, and whilst doing that, about 20 minutes past 9 o'clock, I heard a heavy, deep thud, as of a fall, at some con- siderable distance. The sound seemed to be above our heads, we being in the low main seam. I thought nothing of it, but one man said he thought that the pit had fired. I went on with my work for about five minutes, when I was obliged to go out to get my lamp relighted. After I had got a short distance out I met some men, who said there had been an explosion and they were making for the shaft. I felt a smell like burning tow, and I began to fear that the worst had happened. I ran back and shouted to my mate to oome out as quickly as he could. My mate joined me, and we followed some men out. Two or three times we experienced a peculiar atmosphere, which seemed to induce sleep." At 9 o'clock, almost to the minute, the men m the East Pit say that the first indication of the accident experienced by them took place 20 minutes later than I that. They heard no report, nor did they feel the rush of air which is generally experienced after an explosion of this sort. They all concur in describing the sound heard by them as being rather like what would have followed a heavy fan of coal. Indeed, many of the men took na aiArm, and con- tina^d to work until they were tolti by their comrades that something serious had happened. They then made their way to the shaft, travelling, however at a moderate pace, l«,t they should encounter at a moderate pace, they should encounter the deadly afterdai5»j> which invariably accom- { panies an explcsien. Here and there on their way they noticed that the bratticing was blown out, and from these places a slight stithe wV Mt. i Raching the shaft they discovered that everything t there was one mass of wreckage. It COll}, then; be seen that the force of the explosion :¡u.d < ome from the opposite side of the west pit. 'It- evident that t:.eir chaiicc of being rescued by the ordinary was hopeless. They coiigregucet? in one la<-ge tr'I ap, and took counsel as to what RVJO aid be done. before they had worked long-one of the < men found means of reaching what is^nown as the back sliaft of the pit, where by tats time the explorers fruin the bank had descended. It nearly two hours alter the occurrence that the first, man from the hast pit was brought to the bank. Unfortunately a further loss of life occurred in the pit en Tuesday morning, a party of explorers beinc» overcome by a sudden rush of afterdamp. Before the valiant feller* Mivld reach purer air, two of thsir miinoer dted,



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