Springhill, NS Mine Explosion, Nov 1956

Interior of Springhill Mine



Springhill, Nova Scotia (AP) -- Only faint hope was held Friday for 113 men trapped more than 3,000 feet below ground in a gas-choked coal mine shattered by a blast that already has claimed 13 lives.
Rescue workers found four bodies during the night at the 2,400-foot level. They said they saw no sign of life in the deep workings where the remaining 113 were known to be trapped.
Six miners were fatally injured injured when the explosion roared through the Cumberland Railway and Coal Company mine slope Thursday night, leveling buildings and reducing surface workings to rubble. Gas fumes killed two rescue workers. Nine men were hospitalized.

Tunnels Blocked.
The blast could prove Canada's worst mine disaster in 40 years.
"There is still hope -- though it may only be a faint hope -- that the men are still alive," said mine Manager GEORGE CALDER.
Rescue workers said they could not bring out the bodies because of fumes and blocked tunnels. They said a hoist would have to be rigged before their search for survivors could continue. But they added the air seemed to be circulating better in the mine depths, a hopeful sign.

Relatives Wait.
Hundreds of relatives stood around blackened ruins of mine buildings smashed by the explosion. Almost every family in Springhill, a town of 7,000 near the New Brunswick border, was represented.
The explosion, believed caused by coal dust, hurled one man through a window, smashed nearby buildings and shook the surrounding countryside.
For a while there was danger fumes wafting through the tunnels would touch off another explosion. Later, officials said this danger had been lessened.

Cedar Rapids Gazette Iowa 1956-11-02



Springhill, N.S., Nov. 3 -- (AP) -- All 113 men trapped in a coal mine here since late Thursday have been found alive, company officials announced today.
The survivors began coming out of the shaft in a steady stream. Anxious relatives who had crowded the pithead without sleep cheered joyously.
Many appeared badly injured but a spokesman said at least 50 were uninjured "because they had sense enough to lie down and escape the gas."
The first miner to be brought to the surface, CHARLES BURTON, said all 80 men in his group were well. The men appeared exhausted and had to be helped into ambulances.

Every 3 Minutes.
They were coming out of the mine two at a time every three minutes.
They had been trapped more than a mile below ground since a tremendous explosion destroyed the upper workings at 5 p.m. Thursday. Thirteen were killed outright or died later.
The coal industry's trained rescue experts said that when they had been lowered today by a newly constructed hoist to the 5,400 foot level they met three of the miners walking toward them along the slope.
Company officials called for volunteers to act as stretcher bearers to go into the shaft and get out the injured.
The latest report said at least 40 men were making their was to the surface without assistance.

Hopes Were Dim.
The safety of the men was announced after almost all hope had been abandoned of finding them alive.
Rescue efforts yesterday were complicated by a raging fire at the 3,400-foot level which forced suspension of all activities for several hours.
Word of the rescue raced through the weary, discouraged crowd at the pithead as Lt. Gov. ALISTAIR FRAZER arrived at the scene with Springhill mayor RALPH GILROY.
"This is one of the happiest moments of my life," GILROY exclaimed. "I know all the men down there. I think all the miners are uninjured but exhausted."
As the miners emerged from their imprisonment some walked without aid to first aid stations. Others were helped into ambulances.
Bitterly cold weather failed to chill the spirits of the huge crowd when news of the mass rescue was proclaimed. Children, who had been silent and bewildered, began running and shouting. Women burst into tears of happiness.

Oakland Tribune California 1956-11-03