Wilburton, OK Gas Explosion In Coal Mine, Jan 1926

ONE WHITE MINER CRAWLS OVER SCORES OF DEAD COMPANIONS TO SAFETY WHEN FLAMES IN OKLAHOMA MINE DIE DOWN.

TOLL OF DEAD SET AT 93, WITH NINE RESCUED ALIVE; TAKE FEW BODIES OUT.

Wilburton, Okla., Jan. 14. -- (AP) -- CECIL McKINNEY, white, one of the 93 miners entombed by the explosion in Degnan-McConnell mine No. 21, near here early yesterday, was rescued this morning.
McKINNEY is the first survivor to come out of the lower levels of the mine.
McKINNEY said he had crawled in the mine passage over dead bodies for 23 hours. He was in a state of nervous exhaustion, when rescue workers brought him to the surface. His clothing was watersoaked and his face covered with soot. A physician called from the throng about the mouth of the mine said he would recover in a short time.
"I crawled and crawled after the explosion in utter blackness," McKINNEY chattered between clenched teeth as he was almost carried to the shower room.
"There are 15 dead bodies in entry 16, east, where I was working at the time the explosion occurred."
Thinks All Are Dead.
"I don't know where I crawled or how long I crawled but I just squeezed thru and finally found a slope and came to the bend where you found me."
McKINNEY said he did not think any in the mine were alive.
Fire which has been raging in the fourteenth level was extinguished early today, rescuers said, and the work of rescuing the bodies went forward rapidly. Between 50 and 75 men were on hand to aid rescue crews as they are needed.
Three more bodies have been brought to the cage shaft and are ready to be drawn out. Six were brought out last night. Three others were uncovered and can be brought to the surface at any time. The other men are believed to be buried so deeply beneath debris that it will be two or three days before their bodies can be removed.
Work Closed Down.
Regular work in the Wilburton valley was closed down today and between 350 and 400 miners were here to give any possible aid.
The interior of the mine is a scene of destruction, workers said, altho they declared there was little damage below the slope outside of the cave-ins and burned timbers. A string of coal cars in the main passageway was found partially burned with the driver dead in the seat evidently killed by concussion. Rescue workers were unable to get close enough to identify him.
Bodies of the men brought to the surface indicated that they had burned to death.
Despite the tragedy that touched many of its homes, an air of calmness prevailed generally thruout Wilburton and there was little hysteria. The small crowds on the main street did not talk much of the disaster. The death toll now stands at 92. Eight negroes were rescued last night.

Waterloo Evening Courier Iowa 1926-01-14

Read another article about the disaster (below).