EXPLOSION IN COLLIERY
APPALLING LOSS OF LIFE
News was received in Paeroa *on Saturday morning of a serious colliery disaster at Huntly. At 7.20 a.m. the residents of the township were startled by a rumbling noise, followed by the sound of an explosion. .From the mouth of Ralph's mine, which adjoins the'railway station, burst forth great volumes of smoke, and for some considerable time it was impossible for rescue parties to proceed below. Fifty-two men were below when the explosion occurred. Nine managed to reach the surface up the main shaft, and eleven were rescued at the Taupiri West shaft. There were many sad scenes at the . pit head. All the townspeople, and hundreds of miners, thronged the vicinity. For some time rescue parties could not get as far as the main shaft, but ultimately two parties went down into the mine—one by the main shaft and the other by the Taupiri West shaft.
How the accident happened is a mystery. The Huntly mines are considered to be amongst the safest known. In fact, the mine has always been regarded by experts as free of gas, and it has been a customary thing tor the men to work with naked acetylene gas lights. In this connection Professor H.-B. Dixon, Professor of Chemistry in the University of Manchester, at present on a visit to Auckland, points out that it has been proved that coal dust in the atmosphere is as highly dangerous an explosive as coal gas itself. Two years ago the mine was examined by Government experts, and was then declared one ot the safest in the Dominion, It is stated that a shortage of safety lamps hampered the work of the rescue gangs. , j