October 14, 1913Senghenydd Colliery Disaster, the United Kingdom's worst coal mining accident, occurs, and it claims the lives of 439 miners.
The explosion was probably started by a firedamp (methane) being ignited, possibly by electric sparking from equipment such as electric bell signalling gear. The initial firedamp explosion disturbed coal dust present on the floor, raising a cloud that then also ignited. The shock wave ahead of the explosion raised yet more coal dust, so that the explosion was effectively self-fueling. Those miners not killed immediately by the fire and explosion would have died quickly from afterdamp, the noxious gases formed by combustion. These include lethal quantities of carbon monoxide, which kills very quickly by combining preferentially with haemoglobin in the blood. The victims are suffocated by lack of oxygen.
January 19, 1917Silvertown explosion.
The Silvertown explosion occurred in Silvertown in West Ham, Essex (now part of the London Borough of Newham, in Greater London) on Friday, 19 January 1917 at 6.52 pm. The blast occurred at a munitions factory that was manufacturing explosives for Britain's World War I military effort. Approximately 50 tons of trinitrotoluene (TNT) exploded, killing 73 people and injuring over 400, and also causing substantial damage to buildings and property in the local area. This was not the first, last, largest, or the most deadly explosion at a munitions facility in Britain of the war: an explosion at Faversham involving 200 tons of TNT killed 105 in 1916, and the National Shell Filling Factory, Chilwell exploded in 1918, killing 137.