Fitting Tribute to Disaster Victims; 100th ANNIVERSARY OF TRAGEDY MARKED

Article excerpt

Byline: By KERRY WOOD

LIVES lost in a pit disaster will be remembered by 168 peels from a town's church bells.

Each chime on February 16 will represent a victim of the Burns Pit Disaster in Stanley, which happened exactly 100 years ago.

Hearing the first blasts from the underground explosion, thousands of people rushed to the doomed colliery in a rescue effort.

Only 34 pitmen survived the blast, which caused the biggest single loss of life in County Durham during the 20th Century.

No trained rescue team was available and no-one knew where the trapped miners were. It wasn't until 14 hours later that the first of the survivors could be brought to safety.

Meanwhile, 168 miners lay dead underground, killed by the force of the explosion, or by burns or carbon monoxide poisoning.

The service will see people gather in Stanley to commemorate those they lost a century ago and share the memories passed down from generation to generation.

Organised by Derwentside District Council, it will be held at the site of the tragedy from 3.15pm, next to the pit wheel memorial.

Council leader Alex Watson said: "It is only right we do mark this event and it is certainly of great importance, not just to the people of Stanley but the whole mining community.

"Whole streets were wiped out. It was horrific, with mass graves being dug for people unable to afford burials. …

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