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1960: Welsh pit blast kills miners

At least 37 men have been killed in a gas explosion at a coal mine in Monmouthshire, Wales.

Another eight miners are trapped, feared dead, after the accident at Six Bells Colliery, 1,000 ft (305 m) below the surface. They include two fathers, each with their two sons.

Six teams of rescuers were quickly assembled after the alarm was raised, but their progress was hampered by roof falls triggered by the explosion and the large amount of gas still present in the mine.

A spokesman for the National Coal Board said there was "little hope" of finding survivors in the Abertillery colliery, but the search for missing men would continue.

There were 700 people underground in the 70-year-old pit at the time of the blast.

'Terrific flash'

Miner Harold Legge told reporters he was about half a mile from the coal face when he heard a roar and saw a "terrific flash" at about 1045 BST.

"I had a job to breathe and I stumbled to pit bottom through the dust - afterwards I discovered there was a young man killed 20 yards [18 m] away," he said.

As reports of the accident spread, crowds of local people gathered at the pithead, anxious for more news about friends and relatives.

Six Bells Colliery is one of the largest in Monmouthshire and employs 1,450 people - many of them from Abertillery.

"A great many of them lived in the town and several more lived in one small street," said one woman.

In Context
None of the eight trapped men were rescued and the final number of dead in the accident was 45. <br>

The UK coal industry has claimed thousands of lives since the first collieries were opened in the early 1700s. The Six Bells tragedy was one of the last big mining disasters in the country. <br>

An investigation concluded the likely cause of the explosion was a build-up of coal gas ignited by a spark from a falling stone. <br>

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Crowds gathered to watch the rescue

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