Date of the Accident – 28.2.1921
Owner – Eastern Coal Co.
Number of persons killed – 11
Place – Jharia Coalfield
An explosion of firedamp occurred in a sinking shaft and 11 men who were at work at the bottom of the shaft were so severely burnt that they all died within two days. Three shafts, namely No.l, 2 & 3 Pits were being sunk and small quantities of explosive gas had been met with from time to time in all the three shafts. Work in No.1 & 2 pits was discontinued owing to water trouble but the sinking of No.3 pit continued. At a depth of about 44 m, a coal seam, about 1 m in thickness, was met and a small quantity of explosive gas was emitted. The gas bubbled through the water and after two days the emission ceased. The shaft was sunk through the seam to a depth of 46 m. Tests with flame safety lamp did not show the presence of gas.
On 28th February, 13 shots loaded with gelignite were fired and after clearing of fumes and inspection of the shaft bottom, the sinkers descended and started loading the broken rock. When the seventh bucket was raised to the surface, an explosion took place at the bottom of the shaft and a rush of air and smoke and dust was emitted from the top of the shaft. Only slight damage was caused at the shaft top. The empty bucket was speedily lowered into the shaft and the men raised to the surface. All were suffering from extensive burns and in spite of prompt medical attention, all of them died within two days. From the statements made by the victims it appeared that the explosion was caused when one of the deceased struck a match to light a cigarette. After blasting, no lights had been taken into the shaft as the daylight fully illuminated the shaft bottom.
The Inquiry Officer came to the conclusion that blasting done a few hours before the explosion had released an accumulation of gas in the strata which was gradually diluted by air to come within the explosive range. The explosive mixture thus formed was ignited by the lighted match-stick of one of the victims.
After the accident, instructions were issued that all the three sinking shafts were to be regarded as gassy mines and that no naked lights were to be allowed in them.