Centralia, IL Coal Mine Disaster, Mar 1947
76 MEN STILL TRAPPED IN MINE.
BODIES OF 18 MORE CENTRALIA MINERS CARRIED OUT TODAY.
TOTAL DEATH TOLL OF TUESDAY'S BLAST LIKELY TO REACH 111, BELIEF.
(By The Associated Press)
One hundred eleven soft coal miners feared lost in Tuesday's Centralia mine explosion; of 142 men in the mine at time, 76 remained trapped, 35 are known dead and 31 rescued alive; disaster may prove coal industry's worst in 19 years.
Rescue crews working along three and one-half mile tunnel 540 feet underground fail to find a single living miner since a few hours after blast. State mine inspector says week may be needed to recover all victims' bodies.
Kinfolk of missing diggers keep sad virgil at improvised morgue set up in nearby bus garage.
U.S. senate orders inquiry after Senator BROOKS (R-Ill.) declares safety codes violated under federal administration of nation's mine operations; Centralia Coal Company officials withhold reply comment.
AFL United Mine Workers local officer says union asked Illinois governor year ago to see that safety laws are enforced "before we have a dust explosion": Governor GREEN says investigating commitee reported complaint "sounds a good deal worse than it really is."
Circuit court of Washington county, Illinois, promises grand jury investigation of whether criminal negligence was involved.
State inspectors say examination of mine a week ago showed various unsafe conditions, company officer says, "We have been working on recommendations but all cannot be accomplished within few days."
Centralia, Ill., March 27. -- (AP) -- Fears that the death toll of Tuesday's mine explosion ultimately would reach 111 were intensified today as the bodies of 18 more miners were brought up the shaft of the Centralia Coal company's No. 5 mine.
The recovery of these victims brought to 35 the number of known dead and left 76 still trapped below. A rescue squad leader gave those pinned underground "no chance at all."
A heavy snow fell over the grim setting as rescue squads, after working through the early morning hours, brought the second group of dead miners from 540 feet below the ground. There were only a few persons at the pit as the bodies were placed in ambulances and taken to a temporary morgue in a nearby bus garage. Last night 16 bodies were removed to the garage. Earlier one miner removed from the mine on Tuesday, died.
Bodies Twisted Bruised.
An unidentified rescue worker said the bodies of the 18 brought from the pit today were twisted and bruised and clothing on some were burned, indicating they had been nearer to the explosion than the 16 miners who were found last night.
As the death toll mounted, with a rescue leader predicting it would reach 111 company officials said rescue attempts would be pushed, "we're not going to give up."
The toll of 111 dead predicted by WILLIAM J. ROWEKANIP, rescue leader and recording secretary of the Centralia local of the AFL United Mine Workers whose members worked the mine, would rank the disaster as the greatest in the nation's coal fields since 195 lost their lives in 1928 at Mather, Pa.
Company Revises Totals.
The company presented a revised total of the number of miners who had been in the mine at the time of the blast. Vice President W. P. YOUNG said 142 men had been in the mine and 31 had been removed alive. Earlier he said 151 men had been below and 30 had been rescued alive.
ROWEKAMP'S views were echoed by other rescue workers who said that not a single victim has been taken alive from the mine since Tuesday night several hours after the explosion.