Lethbridge, AB, Devastating Mine Explosion, June 1914
236 MEN ARE KILLED IN MINE EXPLOSION.
ALBERTA WORKMEN ENTOMBED AND BURNED OR CRUSHED TO DEATH IN A COLLIERY.
HOUSES WRECKED BY SHOCK.
THOUSANDS OF TONS OF ROCK BLOCK PIT, WHERE THRONGS HEAR DYING CRIES OF THE VICTIMS.
Lethbridge, Alberta, June 19. -- A mighty explosion today entombed 250 miners employed in Mine 20 of the Hill Crest Collieries Limited. Of 50 miners taken out only 14 were living tonight. Despite the efforts of two score mine experts, laboring amid the poisonous gases and debris, hope of rescuing alive the 200 men yet in the mine is remote.
The effects of the disaster were:
Men in mine when explosion occurred, 600, of whom 350 escaped.
Number of rescued 50, of whom 36 died later.
Miners still emtomber, 200, probably killed by fire, which followed the explosion.
The explosion, which occurred about 9 o'clock this morning, shook the countryside for miles around, lifted the roofs from many miners' cabins, and demolished numerous small buildings. A moment after the explosion a score of panic-stricken surface workers rushed from the mine, followed by a dense cloud of smoke and poisonous fumes.
Appeals for help were dispatched to many towns, and in the meantime residents organized an emergency crew and began the work of rescue.
When the first rescue crew arrived this afternoon a large force of men set about to clear the shaft, working desperately as the feeble moans of the entombed men came from the shaft. The moans became fainter, and finally ceased. Thousands of tons of rock have fallen into the shaft, and it is feared that the men, even had they escaped death from the poisonous fumes, probably were crushed to death by the falling debris.
No information as to what caused the explosion has been obtained, but it is believed it was due to the forming of gases. THOMAS QUIGLEY, Superintendent of the mine, is among those entombed.
Early tonight two trains filled with expert mine workers, doctors, nurses, and officials or railways arrived at the mine, and the work of rescue was begun in a systematic way. As the experts entered the mine they found jumbled in a chaotic mass, horses, timbers, wagons, and mining paraphernalia, indicating the force of the explosion.
Fire broke out soon after the explosion, which tore out both ends of the pit and blocked up the interior workings, making it almost impossible for rescuers to get into the shaft. Most of the miners were working 400 feet inside the mine.
A majority of the men were foreigners, but a large number of them were English-speaking.
At dusk tonight a group of women stood at the mouth of the mine, still hopeful that the cries for help that issued from the tinner workings earlier in the day might be repeated, indicating that those beneath were still alive. Later, however, the women dispersed, expressing the general feeling that the men were all dead.
The New York Times New York 1914-06-20