Commemorating France's Worst Mining Tragedy: 1099 Workers Perished to Profit the Bosses

Bredoux, Lenaig; Bolland, Patrick (Tr.)
Date Written:  2006-03-15
Publisher:  Humanite in English
Year Published:  2006
Resource Type:  Article
Cx Number:  CX22173

A mining catastrophe in northern France on March 10, 1906, is remembered with a number of commemorative ceremonies.



It's still night, the air is damp. Anonymous figures huddle under their umbrellas. Opposite, the ex-miners line up in their work-clothes shoulder to shoulder at the mouth of the pit which they have reconstructed. From afar, you only see their lamps. Then, in the darkness, the sirens resonate. It's 6.34 in the morning in the mining region. The sirens continue to resonate.

Just like exactly 100 years ago, when the sirens of Mericourt, Sallaumines, Billy-Montigny and Noyelles-sous-Lens in the Pas-de-Calais region of northern France announced the terrible news: there was an underground explosion in the mine-shafts belonging to the Courrieres Mining Company. In just a few minutes, a ball of fire destroyed everything in its path along 110 km of underground galleries. This was the greatest mining disaster Europe has ever known.

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