West Frankfort, IL Coal Mine Explosion, Jan 1928
TOTAL DEATH LIST IN MINE BLAST IS 21.
INVESTIGATION OPENS INTO CAUSE OF EXPLOSION YESTERDAY.
ALL OTHERS ESCAPE SAFELY.
CORONER'S INQUEST STARTS TODAY OVER DEATH OF 21 MEN.
(By Associated Press)
West Frankfort, Ill., Jan. 10 -- The cause of the gas explosion which resulted in the loss of 21 lives in the Industrial Coal Co. No. 18 remained a mystery today.
One theory was that the gas had been set off by a spark from an electric coal cutting machine, but this was considered improbable. Another theory is that a miner had struck a match.
A. D. Lewis, state director of mines, who inspected the scene of the disaster, said safety regulations had been followed.
A coroner's jury was sworn in and the inquest opened this afternoon.
The dead are:
C. M. DUGER.
C. P. CARAWAY, all of West Frankfort.
GERALD DAY, of Benton.
AUBURA STONE, of Marion.
They were all working as cutters or loaders.
The bodies were located by three mine rescue teams from Herrin, Valier and Benton. The teams working with gas masks cut their way through fallen walls more than a mile from the shaft. Officials of the mine said that all employees had been accounted for.
The cause of the explosion was undetermined and state mine inspectors under the personal direction of A. D. Lewis, director of the Illinois Department of Mines and Minerals, were conducting an investigation. The position and condition of the dead miners indicated that death was caused by the violence of the explosion, although gas was present in the mine when rescue workers descended.
The bodies were brought to the surface and preparations made to place them in the Morgue here, where the relatives who have been barred from mine property will claim them.
Mine officials refused to discuss the disaster and newspaper men and photographers were ordered to leave the mine premises. An airplane bringing reporters and photographers from Chicago which landed near the mouth of the mine aroused the ire of several employes of the mine was threatened to demolish the machine. Bert Brown, president of the local miners' union interceded and the newspaper men succeeded in preventing damage to their plane.
Eight miners were brought out of the mine alive and uninjured. They were: BILL REED, ALEX HAMLIN, TONY STRAUSS, CHARLES PEEBLES, WILL ALLEN, RUEL PARKS, CHARLES MITCHELL and JAMES BENN. REED crawled out of an air shaft while HAMLIN and STRAUSS were in another part of the mine and built a protecting wall to prevent the deadly gas from reaching them. W. E. WADE, another rescued miner was suffering from the effects of gas.
The process of identification was carried on by the members of the safety lamps found on the miners. Many men were mangled and their features unrecognizable. One body found with a lamp was identified through the number of the mine room in which he was working.
The Free Press Carbondale Illinois 1928-01-10