Port Griffith, PA Coal Mine Flooding, Jan 1959
33 SAFE IN PENNSYLVANIA -- 12 MISSING IN FLOODED MINE.
Pittston, Pa. (AP) -- The ice-studded Susquehanna River poured through a railroad bank into an anthracite mine Thursday, swamping a crew of 45.
Thirty-three dazed and injured were rescued. Twelve are missing, Robert Groves, superintendent of the Knox Coal Co., reported.
Nobody gave up hope for the missing. But nobody was optimistic.
A rescue crew went down an air shaft and found the 33, who said they were lost in the corridors.
One of those rescued, JOE SOLTIS, 43, a father of three, said:
"We never heard the water come in at all. It was just there all of a sudden. I waded several yards up the track in the mine to the air shaft and then got up to the railroad tracks where I was safe."
Twenty-six of the rescued were admitted to Pittston Hospital suffering shock and exposure. All were reported in good condition.
"We walked, walked -- walked for seven hours in water up to our waist," said JOHN GUSTITIS, 25, as he got out of an ambulance. A nurse offered him a glass. "What's this, beer?" he asked. It was orange juice.
As temperatures dropped and night fell, crews began pumping out the mine. Daniel M. Connelly, deputy state secretary of mines, would not guess as to how long it would take.
There were reports some of the miners became panickey. "If there hadn't been any panic the rest could have gotten out the way I did," miner SOLTIS commented.
"We had to claw our way out like chipmunks," said another. Then he dropped from utter weariness.
The mine is on a slope between the river and the crest of a hill on which stands the village of Port Griffith in northeastern Pennsylvania. Waters of the Susquehanna pushed against the roadbed of the Lehigh Valley Railroad until they bored a hole 40 to 50 feet under the tracks.
The river jetted into the mine, trapping the workers.
Beckley Post Herald West Virginia 1959-01-23
Knox Mine Disaster Victims.