Springhill, NS Coal Mine Explosion Disaster, Feb 1891

A TERRIBLE MINE DISASTER.

PROBABLY ONE HUNDRED LIVES AT LEAST ARE LOST.

THE DISTRICT OF SPRINGHILL, NOVA SCOTIA, THROWN INTO MOURNING BY THE RESULTS OF AN EXPLOSION IN A COAL MINE AT SLOPE NO. 4.

Halifax, N. S., Feb. 21. -- Springhill, one of the most important coal mining districts of Nova Scotia, has been thrown into mourning by a terrible explosion that occurred in what is known as Slope No. 4, about 2 o'clock to-day. This part of the mine was opened a few days ago by a committee appointed by the workmen, who reported it to be in excellent condition. The Deputy Inspector of Mines finished a thorough inspection of all the pits yesterday, and found everything in splendid order. The cause of the explosion is a mystery. The mine has been terribly shattered, and the loss of life is very large. Rescuers are now at work bringing out the dead bodies, which are frightfully mutilated.
Heartrending scenes are being witnessed about the mouth of the pit. Sorrowful mothers and wives are to be seen everywhere, weeping and lamenting for those near and dear to them, and who are being brought up dead or wounded. The names of the injured so far rescued are:
HYATT NOILES; JOHN DIKENS; JOHN B. ANDERSON; GORDON CARMICHAEL; HUGH BUNT; JOHN CONWAY; HENRY NASH; CYRUS MUNRO; DAVID LOCKHART; and DAVID MERRITT. Doctors were summoned from neighboring towns and speedily answered the call. The work of recovering the dead is attended by considerable difficulty. There is, however, no lack of brave volunteers, who are doing good work.
The dead brought to the surface up to 9 o'clock to-night number twenty-three.
The majority of the bodies bear no marks of violence, death having apparently been caused by fire damp. Others are horribly mutilated and almost unrecognizable. Several of the rescue party were overcome by damp and were resuscitated with difficulty. The work of rescuing is still being vigorously carried on. This is a laborious task, and all who are now in the pit will certainly be dead before they can be reached. The number of those still under ground is estimated at eighty. Manager SWIFT is among the missing. The pits are clear of fire and ventilation has been restored in the neighborhood of the disaster, but owing to the damp no person has ventured into No. 6 or 7 balances. These places will be explored as soon as possible.
This is the first serious accident that has occurred at Spring Hill mines since they were first opened. General Manager COWAN arrived from Montreal only about an hour before the explosion took place. The mines turn out between 300,000 and 400,000 tons of coal a year, the market for it being largely in Ontario and Quebec.
One of many pathetic scenes was that of the fainting of a woman whose husband is among those in the wrecked pit and who stood with her three children clinging to her in a pouring rain watching the progress of the rescue work. The majority of the killed were husbands and fathers, and the calamity will fall heavily on a large number who are unable to help themselves.

The New York Times New York 1891-02-22

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