“The Springhill Bump”
The 1958 Bump which occurred on October 23, 1958 was the most severe “bump” (underground earthquake) in North American mining history. The 1958 Bump devastated the people of Springhill for the casualties they suffered; it also devastated the town, as the coal industry had been its economic lifeblood.
The No. 2 colliery was one of the deepest coal mines in the world. Sloping shafts 14,200 feet (4,300 m) long ended more than 4,000 feet (1,200 m) below the surface in a vast labyrinth of galleries off the main shafts. In the case of the No. 2 colliery, the mining techniques had been changed 20 years before this disaster, from “room and pillar” to “long wall retreating” after reports documenting the increased danger of “bump” phenomena in the use of the former technique.
On October 23 a small bump occurred at 7:00 pm during the evening shift, but was ignored as this was a somewhat common occurrence. However just over an hour later at 8:06 pm an enormous bump “severely impacted the middle of the three walls that were being mined and the ends of the four levels nearest the walls.”
The bump spread as three distinct shock waves, resembling a small earthquake throughout the region, alerting residents on the surface over a wide area to the disaster. Dräger teams and teams of barefaced miners entered the No. 2 colliery to begin the rescue effort. The rescue teams encountered survivors at the 13,400-foot (4,100 m) level walking or limping toward the surface. Gas released by the bump was encountered in increasing concentrations at the 13,800-foot (4,200 m) level where the ceiling had collapsed, and rescuers were forced to work down shafts that were in a partial state of collapse or were blocked completely by debris.
Any miners who were not covered either in side galleries or some other shelter were immediately crushed during the bump, the coal faces having been completely destroyed. 75 survivors were on the surface by 4:00 am on October 24, 1958. Rescue teams continued working, but the number of rockfalls and amount of debris slowed progress.
Meanwhile, the Canadian and international news media had made their way to Springhill. The disaster actually became famous for being the first major international event to appear in live television broadcasts (on the CBC). As the world waited and those on the surface kept their vigil, rescuers continued to toil below the surface trying to reach trapped survivors. Teams began to arrive from other coal mines in Cumberland County, on Cape Breton Island and in Pictou County.
After five and a half days (placing it around the morning of Wednesday, October 29, 1958) contact was established with a group of 12 survivors on the other side of a 160-foot (49 m) rockfall. A rescue tunnel was dug and broke through to the trapped miners at 2:25 am on Thursday, October 30, 1958.
On Friday, October 31, 1958 the rescue site was visited by various dignitaries, including the Premier of Nova Scotia, Robert Stanfield and His Royal Highness Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh who had been at meetings in Ottawa.
On Saturday, November 1, 1958 an additional group of survivors was found; however, there would be no more in the following days. Instead, bodies of the dead were hauled out in airtight aluminum coffins, on account of the advanced stage of decomposition, accelerated by the Earth’s heat in the depths of the No. 2 mine at 13,000–14,000 feet (4,000–4,300 m) from the mine entrance.
Of the 174 miners in No. 2 colliery at the time of the bump, 74 were killed and 100 trapped but eventually rescued.
Source Wikipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Springhill_mining_disaster