Nordegg, AB Brazeau Mine Explosion, Nov 1941
19 BODIES TAKEN FROM BRAZEAU MINE.
FIRST OFFICIAL REPORT PLACES NUMBER OF VICTIMS AT 31.
WOMAN LOSES BOTH HUSBAND, FATHER.
Nordegg, Alta., Nov. 1. -- (CP) -- Thirty-one coal miners were killed by an explosion yesterday in the Brazeau Colleries according to the first official detrailed report made available early today.
JOHN SHANKS, general manager of the mine, said "there are 19 of the men who were killed now removed and it is believed there are 12 more to come." Earlier MR. SHANKS and other officials said there was no hope any would be found alive.
Meanwhile expert rescue teams worked steadily to bring out the bodies still remaining in the workings of the mine, one of the largest coal mines in Alberta. Nordegg is about 230 miles by road southwest of Edmonton.
A. A. MILLAR of Edmonton, Alberta's chief mines inspector, said the formal mine department iniquiry would be conducted in a week or two.
MR. MILLAR said that from what he has learned so far "the original detonating cause could have been a shot -- that is, from an electric detonator used to knock the coal down." He added "the mine has had a very good safety record."
Two shifts of workers spend the night underground clearing debris and opening blocked-off areas to allow circulation of air so removal of remaining bodies could be completed as fast as possible.
Apart fram a few cave-ins the mine is not seriously damaged. Work in the mine, however, has been discontinued and will not be resumed until investigations under way by Alberta government officials are completed.
Thirty workmen in other sections of the mine were withdrawn to safety as soon as it was found something serious had happened yesterday and rescue squads were rushed to the scene immediately.
Dr. E. A. Braithwaite of Edmonton, chief provincial coroner, will, with the help of Dr. L. Rudin, colliery physician, open an inquest sometime today.
Headed by rescue squads especially trained for this work, miners toiled unceasingly yesterday to remove the bodies from the scene of the disaster -- three-quarters of a mile from the mine mouth in the fourth left level.
Hundreds of persons, including wives, sons, daughters, brothers and sisters of the victims stood tensely at the mine entrance as the rescuers brought the men to the surface, and took them to the nearby theatre where they were laid out side by side and relatives walked sombrely among the sheet-covered forms to identify them.
Mine officials said some of the men killed were among the oldest miners in the colliery, one man's service dating from 1917. Many were men with families and in some cases two men from the same family were killed.
One young Nordegg woman, whose name could not be learned immediately, said she lost her husband and her father.
Three of the men came here recently from Hinton, Alta.
There were four drivers, two track-layers, four timber-men and the rest miners. The men had been working about two hours when the explosion occurred.
Only trained rescue men were allowed to go into the mine to prepare the way for others after the first alarm shortly after 9 a.m. M.S.T. was given to the hoist room. Two trained men arrived here from nearby Alexo mine to help.
The disaster was one of the worst in the history of Alberta coal mining. Highest toll on record in the province was caused by a blast at Hillcrest in June, 1914 when 189 men were killed in a gas explosion.
The tragedy stunned this little town in the foothills of the Rockies, whose population is about 800, and sent a wave of sadness throughout as the citizens mourned their dead and launched plans for a mass burial.
The explosion occurred about a mile from the top of the shaft of No. 3 mine, which slopes into the earth at an angle of 12 degrees. There was no deafening roar -- just a split-second bark like the crack of a rifle and then silence after the report rolled away. The blast was felt in other sections of the mine where work stopped immediately the alarm shrieked.
First miners gathered at the entrance and they were joined shortly by citizens and sobbing relations. All remained tense as the first victims were brought out.
Rescuers said many of the bodies were crushed under shattered fragments and strewn about in the tunnel. MR. SHANKS said that shortly after he investigated he did "the only thing that was left and sent a man up to the top of the shaft to tell the women and relatives that there was no hope, that they were all gone."
Friends of Pit Boss ARMSTRONG said he lost a brother in a rock fall several years ago. Little was known about the other men but friends, said they believed some of the men reported dead had been survivors of the Hinton disaster in 11938, which took the lives of six men.
Nordegg, Alta., Nov. 1 -- (CP) -- Officials of Brazeau Collieries where 32 men were killed by an explosion yesterday have been unable to release a list of the dead but reporters gathered an unofficial list as follows:
JOHN ARMSTRONG, pit boss, single.
V. M. DIBUS, widow, two children.
J. RENCHUK, widow, two children.
J. VOLCKO, widow, one child.
V. KEMPO, widow, three children.
J. OBLOK, widow, six children.
F. ZRUBIK, widow, two children.
G. HALASZ, widow, two children.
J. GOJALA, widow, one child.
J. FEJER, single.
J. GOLYANA, single.
W. SAXON, single.
P. H. HINDMARSH.
Lethbridge Herald Alberta Canada 1941-11-01