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Challenges Past Aleksinac Mine Disaster

Dr Snezana Bajic – Technical Services Manager, Simtars

ABSTRACT

There have been many mine disasters in the last century, globally. The common issues faced by mine rescue teams is re-entering the mine to rescue or recover. This paper will focus on actions and risks associated to decisions made during a past major mine disaster in south Serbia, in a small mining community in Aleksinac.

The mine was opened by Djordje Dimitrijevic and Johan Apel on 28th May 1883, for coal to supply Aleksinac Brewery. The first accident occurred in 1924, where 10 miners died. The second accident was in 1983, where 34 lives were lost. The entire north sector morning shift of 90 coal miners were lost at 11:59am on Friday 17th November 1989. The cause of this disaster can be attributed to a negligence and a fire which ignited coal dust in the “Morava” shaft panel number 445, 700m below the surface. The rescue teams risked their lives to recover the bodies of the victims to the surface in 25 days. They entered with minimal knowledge of the underground atmosphere and conditions.

The disaster influenced the decision to close the mine in 1990 despite the 27 million tonnes available coal reserves. On this pleasant and sunny day, 90 families lost their beloved and 132 kids were left without fathers. “We, miners, have a nice greeting “Srećno” (Good luck), and yet we have no luck” stated the late deputy Vukoje Marković, just few days before he lost his life in this terrible mine disaster.