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1934: Hundreds feared dead in mine blast
Over 200 people are feared to have died in an explosion at a coal mine near Wrexham in Denbighshire.

The accident in the "Dennis Shaft" of Gresford Colliery occurred at 0200 when the miners were on their mid-shift break.

A team of six men were able to escape, but all other miners working in the Dennis section are thought to have perished in the explosion or have been trapped by the fierce fire which followed the blast.

Three members of a rescue team were also killed in early attempts to reach the mineworkers who may have survived the accident.

Around 400 men were on shift in the United Westminster and Wrexham Collieries pit at the time of the blast, but those working in other sectors of the mine were able to reach the surface safely.

Emergency teams arrived on the scene shortly after the accident was reported. Local hospitals have cleared their wards and fire teams have come from as far afield as Sheffield, 90 miles (145 km) away.

Rescue-workers say conditions in the mine are extremely dangerous because of the fire in the main air intake, known as 29's Turn.

It is not yet known what caused the explosion.

It is thought this could be the worst disaster in a British mine since the accident at Senghenydd Colliery in Glamorgan in 1913, which left 439 dead.

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Wreckage of the Dennis Shaft after the explosion
Hundreds of men were killed or trapped by the blast

This is a special report for Archive Awareness Month. Use the links in the right hand column to find out more.

In Context
The fire in the mine continued to burn and on the evening of the following day conditions inside the Dennis Shaft were considered too dangerous to allow the rescue to continue.

The owners of the colliery were forced to conclude that all the missing men must now be dead and the mine was sealed.

There were further explosions on 25 September and a surface worker was killed by flying debris.

It was not considered safe to enter the mine for another six months and only 11 bodies were ever recovered. The final number of dead was 265.

Coal production restarted in other areas of the mine in January 1936, but the Dennis section was never reopened.

Gresford Colliery finally shut on 10 November 1973.

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