In the worst mine disaster in South Africa, a large section of the Clydesdale Colliery ,at the Coalbrook mine near Sasolburg, Orange Free State, caved in and trapped 435 (or 440) mineworkers 180m underground. There were no survivors. No machine capable of drilling holes large enough through which to rescue people was available anywhere in the country. Following this incident, the Chamber of Mines decided to purchase a suitable drill that would make it possible to reach men trapped underground in coal mines.
The accident was believed to have been caused by the disintegration of some 900 underground pillars which cause a massive collapse. Around 1000 miners were underground, only about half of them survived. After weeks of trying, no bodies were ever recovered and the shaft was abandoned and sealed with concrete.
• Mfusi N., (2010), ‘There was no happy ending 50 years ago’, from IOL News, 14 October, [online], Available at www.iol.co.za [Accessed: 20 December 2012]
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