IN TRIBUTE: 250 people packed Kianga Hall on Saturday July 16 to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Moura No 4 mine disaster.
IN TRIBUTE: 250 people packed Kianga Hall on Saturday July 16 to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Moura No 4 mine disaster. Andrew Thorpe

Moura No. 4 mining disaster remembered

MORE than 250 people crowded into Kianga Hall on a Saturday morning earlier this month to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the explosion at the Moura No. 4 mine.

Twelve miners died due to the underground blast on July 16, 1986, the second of three major mining disasters in Moura that rocked the community to its core and reshaped how the industry thought about mine safety.

Relatives and co-workers of the lost miners were joined at the service by union officials, church leaders and members of the rescue and recovery teams at the time.

CFMEU Mines and Energy Queensland district president Stephen Smyth spoke directly to the families of the twelve men.

"This crew was a team of unique personalities," Mr Smyth said.

"They supported each other, shared jokes and stories, and got on with the job in true Aussie spirit.

"We can be forgiven for asking why; why was it this group of men died?

"If I can leave the family and friends with this message: they have in their loss left the mining industry with learnings that will not be forgotten."

The inquiry that followed the disaster found that the flame safety lamp, a tool that had been used in the mining industry for more than 150 years, was one of the probable causes of ignition for the explosion, resulting in their ban from underground mines.

Many of those who addressed the service stressed the importance of taking on the lessons from the past to ensure all workers returned home safely at the end of the day.

Moura No. 4 rescue team member Ron McKenna said while there were more safety precautions in place in modern mines, changing mindsets meant people had to be vigilant when it came to mine safety.

"Now we have a very different economic climate - a lot of people will have a lot of different things on their mind when they go into the mine," Mr McKenna said.

"What better way to remember (the twelve miners) than to make safety their legacy?"

Saturday's service was the first Moura anniversary Susan Wilson, wife of miner Carl Friske, had been able to attend.

She and her family travelled from Brisbane and Kingaroy to attend the service.

"When you're driving back in to Moura, when you hit the mine, that's when it sort of really hits you," Mrs Wilson said.

"There's just times in your life when you know, when the kids get married… and you just know that there's someone missing."

Maurice McPherson lost his son Scott in the disaster, aged just 23.

Before the service, Mr McPherson placed a picture of Scott on the stage at the front of the hall.

"He left a little one, six months old," he said.

Mr McPherson said he had attended every local memorial service and regularly attended state services as well.

 

ALWAYS REMEMBER: Maurice McPherson holds a picture of his son Scott, who passed away aged just 23.
ALWAYS REMEMBER: Maurice McPherson holds a picture of his son Scott, who passed away aged just 23. Andrew Thorpe

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