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The Reporter.

* THE NIGHTCAPS DISASTER. FATALITIES DEE TO WHITE DAMP. The inquest as to the death of the three men- —W. Duncan, W. Carson, and P. Walsh —in the Nightcaps mine on June 21 st, was resumed on Monday, and lasted till Tuesday evening', when the jury returned a verdict “That the deceased died on June 21st, 1907 ; that the cause of their respective deaths,' according to medical testimony and other evidence was due to the effect of white damp.” They added the following rider ; “The jury considers that - due' care was not exorcised prior to the three deceased entering the mine, and recommends that safety lamps be used for inspection, and that the Inspector of Mines insist upon the management complying with all the provisions of the Coal Mines Act in future.” A large number of witnesses were examined, and it, was elicited that no safety lamps had been used in the mine, and that the manager had not. as required by the mining regulations, ordered the men to withdraw from the mine when, according to some of the witnesses, it got into a dangerous condition through the progress' of the fire. In the course of his slimming up, tlie Coroner (Air S. E. AlcCarthy) said that, from the evidence they knew that the safety lamps had not been used in the Nightcaps mine for 20 years and more, and those working the mine agreed that there had not been occasion for their use. However, that was' no excuse for not using safety lamps. A person might go on disregarding the law for a longtime. and then suddenly the occasion might arise which showed how important it was that the law should lie observed. These regulations of (he Coal Alines Act. were not inserted for the purpose of. harassing the owners of mines. They were formed for the protection of the miners. In these and other regulations was the combined wisdom that had been gathered together during a. long course of years going into centuries, showing that some such regulations were necessary. Further, if one particular thing was written larger than another under these regulations it was this. That the safety of the workingminor must be attended to. even if it involved the sacrifice of the mine. That was the principle From the evidence there was no question that when A. Dixon found that a dangerous place had developed he endeavoured to cope with it, and that as the position was becoming more, dangerous and beyond his power of overcoming it he sent for the manager fAli- Lloyd). When Air Lloyd arrived, about 8 o'clock, the dangerous condition of the mine had increased, Coming to that portion of the evidence as to William Carson, Walsh, and Duncan being: sent into the mine, the coroner said that it could not be gainsaid that the manager (Air Lloyd) allowed tit use men, to go into the mine after he (Air Lloyd) had himself been there and had experienced the dangerous position. -Now, before sending thes'e men in it was- Lloyd's duty to ascertain whether the place they wore sent to was in a dangerous state. If the mine t'a-s in a dangerous state it was the manager's duty not only not to order these men in. but to withdraw every man in that mine. The jury had heard a good deal as to a test for discovering- white damp. One witness had said that one pier cent, nf white damp would cause death. On the other hand a witness had staled that it took 12 per cent, of white damp to elongat'd the flame of a lamp, hut he. (the coroner) thought that the use of a safety lamp would have denoted the presence of white damp without exposing anyone to any great amount of danger. None of these precaut ions- was taken. Mr Lloyd admitted that the-e men were sent in to do work which would only have taken ten minutes, and that lor lii minutes afterwards nothing was done to rescue them. Alluding to the question of ventilation, the coroner said it was necessary for these men to remain in the mine thas night. It was Then also necessary to have kept the ventilation apparatus going. They were told that if the fans had been worked it would have increased the expanse of the fire. Well, if the fire had reached such a stage that the working of the ventilating apparatus would be unwise, surely that should have been an indication to those in charge of the mint" that ail the men should be immediately withdrawn. As to Mr Lloyd’s state of sobriety, there w a s not sufficient evidence to show that

when he started up, about 3 o'clock: in the- morning - , to deal with the tire, he was in a state of intoxication. It appeared that there had been occasions in the past when he had given way to drink. Well, he (the coroner) thought if it was not) the law - , it should be, that those in charge of mines should, except when away on holidays, keep themselves hi a state of perfect sobriety, because they never knew the day nor the hour that they might be" called upon to cope with some emergency, in the dealing with which it was necessary, that they should have a clear head, steady nerve, and quick hand. When dangerous conditions existed, ; ,i those in charge did not possess -se qualifications, then the men under him were in a Sorry plight.

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The Reporter., Southern Cross, Volume 15, Issue 12, 6 July 1907

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The Reporter. Southern Cross, Volume 15, Issue 12, 6 July 1907

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