Easington mining disaster remembered at service

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A memorial service has been held to mark the 60th anniversary of a pit disaster in County Durham.

The service, in Easington Colliery, near Peterlee, remembered 81 miners and two rescuers who died in an explosion on 29 May, 1951.

Rescuers and relatives of those who died were among those who attended the service at the village's Church of Ascension.

The congregation went on to the Miners' Mass Grave site for a further ceremony.

George Ottowell, who was with the Mines Rescue Service at the time, said only one member of the shift was brought out alive.

He said: "Our team found the first person alive. It transpired to be the only person alive.

"It was a young lad who I didn't know then and I got the shock of my life when I found out he was only 18.

"But even he didn't survive and died later in hospital."

An investigation showed that a spark from a coal cutting machine ignited gas at the underground coalface. Two shifts of miners were working at the time. None survived.