Easton, PA Quarry Explosion, Mar 1942
BLAST FELT IN RADIUS OF 50 MILES.
SEVERAL KILLED AT CEMENT PLANT QUARRY AT EASTON, PA.
Easton, Pa., March 26. -- At least seven men were killed an an unknown number injured today in a premature dynamite explosion in a limestone quarry at the plant of the Lehigh Portland Cement Co.
Unofficial estimates said the death toll might reach 20.
Fourteen school children from a school a mile north of the quarry were brought to an Easton hospital.
The blast, which occurred about 9:45 a.m. E.W.T.
was heard for miles around, and was so severe that doors were jarred open in Allentown, 18 miles away.
Easton, Pa., March 26. -- (INS) -- Several workmen were believed killed or injured today when a terrific explosion, so great in intensity that it was heard and felt over a 50-mile radius, occurred at the Lehigh-Portland Cement Co., at Sandts Eddy, four-miles north of Easton.
State police said early reports indicated the detonation resulted from a premature explosion in a quarry on the cement company's property and that several workmen had been killed.
The cement company is located on route No. 611 which runs parallel to the Delaware river.
At the plant an official said one workman had been killed and a few injured. The explosions were to have been set off at 2 o'clock this afternoon.
The premature blast shook the countryside for miles around, breaking windows, hurling pictures and dishes from walls and closets.
Lowell Sun Massachusetts 1942-03-26
31 NOW DEAD IN EXPLOSION AT EASTON QUARRY.
HOUSES, BUILDINGS FOR MILES AROUND ARE DAMAGED.
Easton, Pa., March 26 (AP) -- Thirty-one men were literally blown to bits today by an earth-shaking, premature explosion of 20 tons of dynamite in a limestone quarry of the Lehigh Portland Cement Company on the banks of the Delaware River five miles north of Easton.
So terrific was the concussion that it was felt 50 miles away. Hardly a house or building for miles around escaped damage. Many persons were injured, including a dozen children cut by broken glass in a grade school half a mile from the scene.
"The whole world just seemed to shake," one worker said.
Tonight investigators continued to search the area, fearful the death toll would rise still higher.
The explosive had been assembled on the rim of the pit in preparation for blasting away an entire side. During a lull in operations some of the workers opened their lunch boxes for a mid-morning snack in the spring sunshine. Then suddenly the blast let go.
Parts of some bodies were hurled 300 yards. Windows were shattered in homes in Bethlehem and Allentown, 18 and 16 miles away respectively.
Doors in Allentown homes were jarred open and windows twisted askew. A barn collapsed on a farm a half mile from the quarry. Sleepers were tossed from bed, in nearby homes.
However, sixteen workers in the bottom of the pit, 120 feet below the rim, escaped injury.
JAMES A GISH, plant superintendent, said there was no way to determine the cause of the explosion, but that he was confident there was no sabotage. Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation from Philadelphia and the State Department of Labor and Industry began an immediate investigation.
A large part of the company's operations are being devoted to war production.
GISH said it was possible that something dropped on the explosive from an airplane which he was informed flew over the quarry just before the blast. Coroner DAVID F. BACHMAN theorized the dynamite might have been touched off as it was being placed in holes by the workmen.
"Bodies were scattered around for an eighth of a mile," said WILLIAM MILLER, 38, fire chief from nearby Nazareth, and one of the first officials to reach the scene.
"I saw a leg here or an arm there. They were terribly mangled."
LEONARD SABATINO, owner of a coal company just across a highway from the scene declared "it was a terrible sight."
"Bodies were strewn all around. The bodies were just left lying where they were thrown until the coroner arrived."
Seventy children in the Lehigh consolidated school half a mile away were just beginning classes when the explosion occurred. All windows in the two-room building were broken. A dozen pupils and both teachers were injured but only two children were detained at a hospital.
Two explosive experts and a salesman, all employes of the Hercules Power Company, were among the dead. GEORGE B. HADESTY, JR., of Allentown, a veteran of 25 years experience, was killed as he sat in a car near the quarry. The others were ERNEST RAY GARNETT, 41, of Wilmington, Del., blasting superintendent, and WILLILAM LANAHAN, 33, of Bronxville, N.Y., the salesman.
The News Frederick Maryland 1942-03-27