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    Tragedy Strikes: Remembering the 1985 Mining Disaster in Wałbrzych

    On December 22, 1985, tragedy struck the Wałbrzych mine in Wałbrzych, Poland, in a catastrophic event that claimed the lives of 18 miners due to a methane explosion. The incident unfolded around 3:10 p.m. when the mine dispatcher noticed abnormalities on the central methane monitoring board at the Wałbrzych mine’s control centre. The indicators signalled the damage to the methane content sensor and the failure of the ventilation fan sensor in the III-West heading of the G-3 production unit. 

    Shortly after this alarming discovery, a shift foreman stationed in that area reported a methane blast occurring at a depth of 671 meters below the surface. Promptly, the dispatcher summoned mine rescuers and teams from the District Mining Rescue Station to the site.

    The explosion unleashed a powerful shockwave, elevating temperatures to approximately 2600 degrees Celsius and pressure to around 10 atmospheres. The methane accumulated during the blast depleted the oxygen present in the workings, escalating the concentration of carbon monoxide. The fire reached the ceiling, approximately 1.3 meters in height.

    Tragically, the blast claimed the lives of 18 miners. The body of the last victim was discovered after extensive hours of search efforts in a drainage channel beneath a haulage cart. Investigations revealed that this miner attempted to flee the disaster site but lost his way in one of the tunnels, ultimately succumbing to carbon dust inhalation due to the lack of protective gear.

    The structural configuration of the collapsed heading, with two bends, shielded the other miners nearby from the fatal impact. Moreover, the implementation of dust curtains prevented the methane explosion from triggering a coal dust explosion.

    The aftermath of this calamity not only led to the loss of lives but also highlighted the paramount importance of stringent safety measures in mining operations. The bravery and swift response of rescue teams underscored the dedication to preserving lives in the face of such dire circumstances.

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