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TERRIBLE COLLIERY EXPLOSION…

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TERRIBLE COLLIERY EXPLOSION NEAR PONTYPRIDD. NEARLY THREE HUNDRED LIVES LOST. On Saturday afternoon, just before four o'clock, one of the most fearful colliery explosions which have taken place for many years in the South Wales coalfield occurred at the Albion Colliery, Cilfynydd, two miles above Pontypridd, in the Taff Valley. The colliery is on the southern end of the Craig Evan Leyshon Common, and within a hundred yards on the western side of the highway through the Valley and the Glamorgan Canal, which runs along its side. It is situate almost directly opposite the entrance into the Ynysybwl Valley, which is to the west, and across the Taff River from it, and is midway between A berdare Junction and Ponty- pridd. It is not more than ten years, if so many, since the coal was first struck here. The town, which is called Cilfynydd,' signifying Mountain Nook,' is remarkable for its long rows of substantially-built stone cottages of a superior order, and rising in terraces, one above the other, mountainwards. There are several places of worship substantially built, board schools, and places of business in the place. Indeed, everything about the Albion Colliery betokened a high state of prosperity until this fatal afternoon. In round numbers, nearly 900 men and boys ware employed under- ground in the day turn, and about 120 horses were lodged in the stables within the workings. On an average 12,000 tons of coal per week, or 2,000 tons per diem, were turned out of the colliery. The shafts are 520 yards in depth, and the colliery appliances are the most sub- stantial that could be procured for money, and abundance of things for use below crowd the colliery yards. The activity below must have been immense to be able to arrive at the above- named enormous weekly output of steam coal of the most substantial quality. Mr W. Lewis is the chief agent of the company, and Mr Philip Jones is the head manager. Down to Saturday enormous prosperity had crowned the efforts of the company, and the colliery had been free from accidents of any magnitude. Saturday was a thick, foggy day, with a lowering atmos- phere, and the thoughtful could not but think 0 of the scores of thousands of men and boys employed in the underground workings of the South Wales coalfield to whom a lowering atmosphere is a source of deadly peril, and re- quiring the greatest vigilance on the part of all colliery authorities. It is the practice at this colliery for all the employed to end the turn on each Saturday at two o'clock in the afternoon, and return to their homes on the side of the hill, and as usual this was done on this day. Awful as is the calamity which has happened, had the usual number been down in the workings at the same hour of C, the day as that when the present calamity occurred, one shudders to think of what would have been the frightful result! That result would have almost paralysed the business of the United Kingdom, and would have been a disaster of national magnitude It appears the management are in the habit of utilising the remaining hours of the Saturday, when the coal producers are absent from their stalls and headings, to perform the necessary repairs and renovations in the underground roadways. And on Saturday, when the 900 men and boys were leaving the colliery for the day, an unusally large number of repairers—said to number from 200 to 300 men and boys— descended into the workings, they passing in while the others were passing out of the workings. Everything proceeded satisfactorily till a quarter to four o'clock in the afternoon, when suddenly a fearful roar, like the discharge of a heavy piece of ordnance, was heard in the direction of the shafts, and a dense mass of smoke enveloped them from view, and some say that sparks of fire were seen mixed with the smoke. The fact is, the two shafts, of 520 yards each in depth-one, the downcast airway, and the other the upcast-had served the same pur- pose to the exploded forces in the workings as the muzzles of that number of canuon do to explosive charges in them, but with incalculably greater volume. It appears the detonation heard was not of that intensity usually heard in colliery explosions, and the consequence was that the first report circulated respecting the extent of the disaster was that what had occurred was that a boiler had exploded, and that the steam had prevented the men from coming out. But, alas! it was quickly dis- covered that one of the most fearful disasters on record in South Wales had taken place, but that its full extent was even then not realised by even the inhabitants. At seven o'clock in the evening the extent of the disaster was totally unknown on the surface. The suspense was most painful, and many a blanched cheek could be seen in the surrounding throngs. The waiting was like waiting for a verdict when a life is in the balance! The force of the explosion had blown the roof off the building in which the powerful ventilating fan revolved, and also the sides of the roof of the structure over the wings of the pit coverings. The fan house had been hastily covered over with a huge tarpaulin, and the fan was going at full speed, so there was no danger that those at the bottom of the downcast shaft were not supplied with fresh air, for the sucking power of the fan attracted the air in abundance down the down- cast shaft. It depended on the condition of the airways below as to whether fresh air passed to the poor fellows in the interior of the Workings. LATEST AS TO THE LIST OF DEAD. The death-roll up to 10 o'clock on Wednes- day night stood as followsTotal number of bodies recovered, 259 rescued, but since died, 7; total deaths, 266. There are many bodies yet in the mine. Out of the 259 recovered, the identified number 245, leaving 17 bodies unclaimed. RELIEF MEASURES. It is very gratifying to state, in face of the great calamity, that many hearts, touched by the thought of the distress, have been opened, and donations have been freely given to alleviate the urgent needs of the bereaved. 0 Funds have been opened in various quarters, and the rapid way in which subcriptions flow in, indicates clearly that the British heart beats as sympathetic as ever. PONTY CYMMElt GLEE PARTY WILL HELP. TO THE EDITOR. SIR,-The terrible calamity which has befallen our neighbours at Cilfynydd has aroused the deepest sympathy in this district; and we are anxious to do something towards alleviating the great distress that must follow. I am, there- fore, requested by the Pontycymmer Glee Society to ofter to hold a concert in behalf of the above object in any large town or populous district, provided a committee from such place undertake the management thereof. All communications to be addressed to the con- ductor, Oxford-street, Pontycymmer.—I am, &c., TOM RICHARDS, Conductor. PROMPTITUDE OF PAYMENT OF INSURANCE. We are informed a large sum has already been paid in claims by the British Workman's and General Assurance Company to the relatives of victims of the Albion Colliery disaster. The following telegram was received from the managing director:- To Morris, inspector, British Workman's Assurance Offices, Pontypridd. Make arrangements to pay all claims im- mediately, and express directors' sympathy." Mr J. German, superintendent of the Wesleyan and General Assurance Society for Cardiff and district, was one of the first repre- sentatives of assurance societies to visit the scene of the terrible explosion, A large number of the victims were members of this society, and consequently claims are very heavy. Mr German and his assistants at Pontypridd and Mountain Ash are paying all claims without any delay. The directors of the London, Edinburgh, and Glasgow Assurance Company, Limited, have to be commended for their promptness in meeting all their claime arising from the awful disaster at Cilfynydd. Mr Slee (resident secretary), Bristol, and Mr Williams (local manager), Cardiff, were to be seen going from house to house discharging all the claims against the company, without the production of the usual certificates. The amount paid by this company was nearly £3,)0. ————

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