November 9, 2021 | Susan Napier-Sewell

Remembering an Accident: Milke Coal Mine Explosion

Milke coal mine

A two-in-one disaster occurred in Japan on November 9, 1963: the Milke Coal Mine Explosion deaths were largely due to carbon monoxide.

The Miike coal mine was a major explosion, causing the deaths of more than 400, most from carbon monoxide poisoning. Simultaneously, a three-train crash left more than 150 dead. It is estimated that more than 600 people lost their lives as a result of these twin disasters.


The Mitsui Miike coal mine explosion occurred on November 9, 1963, at Mitsui Miike coal mine in Omuta, Fukuoka, Japan. As a result of the accident, 458 miners were killed and 833 were injured.

The deaths were caused by an explosion in a tunnel at Mitsui Miike coal mine, roughly 500 meters below the mine entrance. The blast and flame collapsed the roof at multiple locations in the tunnels, which filled with carbon monoxide. Most of the deaths were due to carbon monoxide poisoning.

Most of the poisoned survivors suffered severe brain damage. Miike was one of the oldest and largest coal mines in Japan. It had been taken over by Mitsui in 1899.

After the investigation of the cause of the accident, the management improved the emergency procedures of the security measures and resumed the mine operation — until March of 1997, when the mine was abandoned.\

Source: Mining Technology: “Mitsui Miike Coal Mine Disaster (1963) – Japan.”

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Accidents, Investigations
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