The Courrières mine disaster, Europe's worst mining accident, caused the death of 1,099 miners in Northern France on 10 March 1906. This disaster was surpassed only by the Benxihu Colliery accident in China on 26 April 1942, which killed 1,549 miners. A coaldust explosion, the cause of which is not known with certainty, devastated a coal mine operated by the Compagnie des mines de houille de Courrières. Victims lived nearby in the villages of Méricourt , Sallaumines , Billy-Montigny , and Noyelles-sous-Lens . The mine was 2 km to the east of Lens, in the Pas-de-Calais département .
A large explosion was heard shortly after 06:30 on the morning of Saturday 10 March 1906. An elevator cage at Shaft 3 was thrown to the surface, damaging the pit-head; windows and roofs were blown out on the surface at Shaft 4; an elevator cage raised at Shaft 2 contained only dead or unconscious miners.
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