The worlds worst mine disaster

November 7, 2017 Mining Editor

According to available information, the world’ worst mine disaster killed 1549 miners.

While there have been many mine disasters in history, the worst we have ever seen occurred in North Eastern China in 1942. Then, the region was controlled by the Japanese and the Benxihu Colliery, which was located just north of Korea, was also under Japanese rule.

What is a mine disaster?

A mine disaster is an event that causes sudden and tragic loss of life from mining-related activities. Probable causes of mine disasters include methane explosions, dust explosions, roof or rib falls, floodings or poisoning from toxic gases embedded in ore bodies or from the mining process. The worlds worst mine disaster occurred at Benxihu colliery in north eat china

Though the mine was being operated by the Japanese administration it was Chinese workers that were doing the labour work and the conditions were harsh and miserable. The incident started with a fire in the mine caused by a gas and dust explosion near the entrance.

Unfortunately, the administrators chose to seal the mine off and cut the ventilation as a means to extinguishing the fire. However, this left the workers who hadn’t been evacuated within the area that had been sealed off. They were left to suffocate. The fire was extinguished, but when the mine was re-opened it took ten days to find bodies in the mine. 31 Japanese miners were killed and 1,518 Chinese workers died.

Sadly, the bodies from the world worst mine disaster were left in a mass grave. An investigation, which was carried out by the former Soviet Union, found that the initial fire wasn’t the cause of the majority of the deaths. Rather, it was the hasty decision to seal the mine that killed the workers. Suffocation and carbon monoxide poisoning extinguished almost 1,600 lives in the world’s worst mine accident.


This mine disaster was one of many examples of how a minor accident spiralled out of control due to poor health and safety decisions.

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