Kayak (Canada) - - FEATURE STORY -

The worst min­ing dis­as­ter in Bri­tish Columbia his­tory hap­pened in Nanaimo, on Van­cou­ver Is­land, on May 3, 1887. Ex­plo­sions in the Es­planade coal mine killed 150 men. As word spread around the world, dona­tions of nearly $2.5 mil­lion in to­day’s money ar­rived from all over. Hill­crest, Alta., lost 189 of the 235 men who had been work­ing in its mines when an un­der­ground ex­plo­sion trapped them on June 19, 1914. Springhill, N.S. has suf­fered not one but three dis­as­ters in its mines. Coal dust ex­ploded un­der­ground on Feb. 21, 1891, killing 125 and in­jur­ing many more. On Nov. 1, 1956, cars broke off from a mine train and hit a power line. The sparks caused an enor­mous ex­plo­sion that trapped min­ers be­low. Brave work­ers went down, some with­out breath­ing equip­ment. They res­cued 88 men, but 39 died un­der­ground. And on Oct. 23, 1958, Springhill ex­pe­ri­enced the worst “bump” — a sort of un­der­ground earth­quake that causes shock waves — in North Amer­i­can min­ing his­tory. Again the res­cue work­ers headed un­der­ground, sav­ing 100 of the 174 trapped min­ers. The 1958 dis­as­ter was widely cov­ered on live tele­vi­sion, which was very new at the time, at­tract­ing world­wide at­ten­tion. Once again, Nova Sco­tia was the site of a tragedy on May 9, 1992, when a gas ex­plo­sion at the Westray Mine near Ply­mouth killed 26 min­ers. Con­di­tions were so dan­ger­ous that the res­cuers had to give up be­fore they were fin­ished, in order to save their own lives.

Two min­ers res­cued from the Springhill, N.S., mine dis­as­ter in 1958

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