Naomi Mine Explosion


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The Washington Penna, Reporter
Monday Evening, December 2, 1907

46 ARE ENTOMBED BY AN EXPLOSION IN A COAL MINE __ Naomi Workings Near Belle Vernon Scene of a Terrible Catastrophe. __ It is Feared That All the Remaining Miners Have No Chance to Escape __ THE MINES WERE CROWDED __
United Press Dispatch. BELLEVERNON, Dec. 2,—Bulletin: At 1 o’clock it is known that 46 men are entombed. Rescuers are working with little hope of success. United Press Dispatch. BELLEVERNON, Dec. 2,—Between 40 and 50 men are entombed by last night’s explosion in the Naomi mine of the United Coal company. It is believed all are lost. No official statement by the company has been made. Rescuers are working hard to save the unfortunates. Several Americans are among those buried. One body, that of a foreigner named Joe, a pumper, was recovered this morning. The mine is two miles from a telephone and reports are slow and meager. The explosion was caused by a miner carrying an open lamp into old workings of the mine, where black damp had been accumulating for years. The explosion affected many of the passageways, ripped away old timbers and slate and rock rolled down to complete the work of death. Only one man, an unknown foreigner, reached the surface through an airshaft, but as he reached the open air he fell unconscious from gas fumes and died in a few minutes. The miners are entrapped a mile from any entrance and far beyond the air shaft, and the men could not travel, if unhurt, through the wreckage that strews the main entry to the mine. By the terrific report of the exploding gas, felt for miles around the vicinity, and wrecking windows in all the houses on the hillside, it is thought the mine supports have been splintered and may cause further collapse of the entry and side workings. The explosion occurred at an hour when the mines were crowded with workmen. The night shift had just got under way in its work. The miners who had been relieved of duty were in the town three miles away enjoying their Sunday holiday. In this word blurred the news of the accident was delayed in reaching the authorities. The efforts of the mine officials and rescuers soon were impeded by the throng of anguished women who ran up to the very pit mouth and cried out in agony for the loved ones who were buried in the dark recesses of the hill. The curses of men bent on entering the mine, the cries of women and the frantic efforts of the officials of the company to locate the exact scene of the explosion added to the chaos. News of the disaster was telephoned to Bellevernon, Monongahela and other surrounding towns. Special cars were chartered and physicians and undertakers hurried to the scene. As yet, however, there has been no work for either. The men entombed are beyond human aid. From the interior could be heard the rumbling noise which indicated that new pockets of the fatal gas were being touched off or that the workings are giving away. The Washington Penna, Reporter Tuesday Evening, December 3, 1907
30 BODIES HAVE BEEN RECOVERED FROM THE MINE Rescue Parties Make Gruesome Discoveries in Ill-Fated Workings. DEATH LIST MAY BE 31 Fifteen Miners Found Huddled Together, Evidently Caught Trying to Escape TO MAKE INVESTIGATION
United Press Dispatch. Bellevernon, Dec. 3.—Up to 10 o’clock this morning 30 bodies had been recovered from the Naomi mine. At that hour Superintendent J.D. O’Neil said: “I do not think the death list will exceed 30 or 31. We have figured it out and cannot see how it can exceed that number.” Preparations have been begun for bringing the bodies up the airshaft. The new powerhouse is being used as a morgue. An announcement that the dead found were scarcely disfigured afforded great comfort to the families of the deceased. It is stated that of all the bodies found only three are beyond recognition. Of the few remaining in the mine is Fire Boss David Roberts. A gruesome find was made at entry No. 29 where within 25 yards no less than 15 bodies were scattered about. Every man had a dinner bucket in his hand and all seemed to have been making their way toward an exit. The slope entrance is still choked up, and entry and exit are made, by the airshaft. Great crowds are still about the mine and cars are carrying people to and from the scene all the time.
Company to Bury Unknown.
The identity of the foreign workmen cannot be rigidly tabulated. Those who have no families here and who have few friends will not be recognized. Few of them carry papers or articles, which would lead to discovering their names. Doubtless many will remain unknown. In this case the company will defray the funeral services and will provide a decent burial for every one of its unfortunate workmen. A plot of ground will be secured in the local cemetery and here the remains of the unknown dead will be interred at a general funeral. Hungarian and Slavish societies will take part. The townspeople in Bellevernon do not seem to appreciate the extent of the horror. Trolley cars leading two miles across the country to the mine where jammed with sightseers and extra cars were placed in commission to accommodate the crowds. Superintendent O’Neill said the exact cause of the explosion had not been discovered. It is believed, however, that a miner with a lighted lamp set off a pocket of gas in some portion of the old workings. An investigation has been ordered. Charges of carelessness, based principally on wild rumors created in the crowd of spectators, have received no serious attention from the officials of the mine or of the miner’s organizations. The Washington Penna, Reporter Wednesday Evening, December 4, 1907
24 BODIES TAKEN FROM NAOMI MINE Controversy Between Miners and Officers Over the Number of Explosion Victims. INSPECTORS NOW CONFER
United Press Dispatch. BELLEVERNON, Dec. 4.—Twenty-four bodies have been removed from the Naomi mine of the United Coal company during last night and now lie in a temporary morgue. Up to 10:30 o’clock this morning, 20 had been identified. No other bodies have been found despite the statement of Superintendent J.D. O’Neil yesterday that he had 27 accounted for by the rescuers. Five members of the state constabulary Troop A, arrived from Greensburg today to do patrol duty. There is considerable controversy between miners and officials about the number of victims. The officials claim the death list will not be over 30, while the miners declare that 43 men were in the mine at the time of the explosion, which means the death list will reach that number.
District Attorney Will Investigate.
T.H. Hudson, district attorney of Fayette county, stated today that he would demand a thorough investigation of the explosion and punish those to blame if carelessness is found to be the cause. The mine inspectors from 12 districts are here. After a preliminary examination they requested the opening of the slope, and at a conference prepared a formal recommendation which will be presented to General Manager James D. O’Neil.
Inspectors Hold Conference.
Last night they met and formed their plans. Those attending the conference were Henry Louttit, John Bell, Thirteenth district; D.R. Blower, Nineteenth district; David Young, Brownsville; C.B. Ross, Greensburg; F.W. Cunningham, Wilkinsburg; T.B. Williams, Connellsville; Nicholas Evans, Tyrone; Charles P. McGregor, Pittsburg; I.G. Roby, Uniontown, and Alexander McCance, Scottsdale. The investigation by the inspectors will continue for the balance of the week. Practically half of the mine has not been explored. Thus far the rescue work has been confined to the right air passage. The left side of the mine has not been examined. However, the explosion occurred in the right passage and it was here that the unfortunate miners were at work. Few of the bodies will be identified and fewer will be claimed. The corpses all are horribly disfigured by burns and already decomposition has set in. The positions of the bodies told mute tales of horrible suffering when the rescuing parties penetrated the distant entries this morning. The Washington Penna, Reporter Thursday Evening, December 8, 1907
TWO MORE BODIES FROM NAOMI MINE Thirty-Two Have Thus Far Beeb Recovered—The Las Beyond Recognition. SEARCH BEING CONTINUED
United Press Dispatch. BELLEVERNON, Dec. 5.—Two more bodies were brought out of the Naomi mine today, making a total of 32 recovered so far. The identity of those found is impossible today. An investigation into the cause of the explosion is going on today and the search for the other bodies is being continued. Lying somewhere in the wrecked Naomi mine, mangled and bruised and fast decomposing, there still lies the body of the water hauler, name unknown, who is said to have been the cause of the terrible explosion which caused the death of 30 men, beside himself, the wrecking of the mine and the destruction of windows of buildings in the vicinity. His is the only body so far as can be learned that remains in the mine. It will be brought to the surface as soon as it is possible to reach it. The force of district inspectors was increased yesterday by the arrival of Charles Napper, of Phillipsburg; Joe Williams, of Altoona, Tom Adams, of Mercer, and John Bell, of Dravonsburg. These experts at once entered the mine to corroborate the findings of their brother inspectors and to make additional examination for themselves. The result is anything but satisfactory to the United Coal company, and Henry Louttit, of this district, will file a report with the head of the state department of mines that will undoubtedly cause a decided sensation in mining circles. He takes exception to the statement of General Manager J.D. O’Neil that no notice of the dangerous condition of the mine had been given the officers of the company and called attention to the work that had been done and was being done in sinking a new shaft into the mine, the opening of which is about 1,000 feet from the two former openings. The Washington Penna, Reporter Friday Evening, December 6, 1907
TWO BODIES IN THE MINE. All the Victims But That Number Believed to Have Been Taken From Naomi Workings.
United Press Dispatch. BELLEVERNON, Dec. 6.—Two more bodies are believed to be in the Naomi mine. It may be several days before they are recovered. All the bodies have now been removed from the temporary morgue. The Washington Penna, Reporter Monday Evening, December 9, 1907
NAOMI MINE INQUEST TO BE HELD THURSDAY
United Pres Dispatch. Uniontown, Dec. 9.—Coroner A.B. Hagari announced today that the Inquest into the Naomi mine explosion would begin at Bellevernon on Thursday morning. The Washington Penna, Reporter Thursday Evening, December 13, 1907
NAOMI MINE INQUEST WAS STARTED TODAY Officials Being Questioned as to Whether It Is Safe to Use Electricity.
United Press Dispatch. BelleVernon, Dec, 12.—Coroner A. S. Hagan commenced an official inquiry today into the Naomi mine explosion, in which 34 lives were lost. A number of officials testified. The trend of the inquest was an examination leading to the question whether or not electricity should be used in mines. The Washington Penna, Reporter Friday Evening, December 13, 1907
NAOMI MINE DISASTER WAS DUE TO INCUFFICIENT VENTILATION Coroner’s Jury Decided That Gas Accumulated From Lack of Air IGNITED FROM WIRES Or From Open Light—Jury Condemns Use of Electricity in Gaseous Mines. RECOMMENDS AIR SHAFTS
United Press Dispatch. Bellevernon, Dec. 13.—The coroner’s jury investigation the cause of the death of 32 miners in the Naomi mine of the United Coal company this morning rendered the following verdict: “We find the miners came to their death as a result of an explosion of gas and dust. The gas seems to have accumulated from insufficient ventilation and was, we believe, ignited from arcing electric wires or an open light at some point not definitely known. “We condemn the use of electric use on return air currents, also the use of even lights in all gaseous mines. We recommend that hereafter an air shaft be opened up where workings reach a point 4,000 feet from the main opening.” The coroner’s jury retired at 8 o’clock last evening. Testimony of Superintendent Henderson and Fire Boss Muri yesterday was that the mine was in good condition and the presence of gas slight. Thomas Thompson said he worked in the Naomi mine six weeks. He admitted that the fresh air-registering gauge for some time had not been in working order. He also said he had noticed gas in the mine two weeks before the explosion, but that he had not signed any of the fire bosses’ reports for two days prior to the explosion. It was pointed out that fire bosses are required by law to report daily the pressure of gas in mines. The mine foreman must counter sign the report. Yesterday was payday at the Naomi mines, but instead of the usual cheery responses when the names were called out there was in many instances silence broken only by the voice of a widow: “H was my husband.” In several cases a sister or a brother answered and drew the last earnings of their only supporters.

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