MATHER, PA., May 21. -- With the faint hope that some life might still exist within the debris of the Mather mine of the Mather Collieries Company, hundreds of rescue workers sought today to learn the fate of at least 150 victims in one of the most disastrous explosions in the history of Pennsylvania soft coal mining.
Early today 63 of the more than 200 miners trapped in the pit when the explosion occurred Saturday were accounted for.
Fourteen men have been rescued alive and 49 disfigured bodies have been brought to the surface and placed in temporary morgues.
Walter H. Glasgow, state secretary of mines, who arrived Saturday night has settled on a total of 210 as the number of men originally trapped.
Glasgow held to the hope that some of the main group of miners in butt 4, where it was thought the gas exploded, might yet be found alive in their working places, more than 300 feet underground and thousands of feet from the shaft entrance.
"If the men have air they are still alive," John Ira Thomas, deputy mine secretary in charge of the bituminous section said.
But rescue workers were more dubious about the chances of life withing the subterranean chambers than were the state mine officials. Rescuers noting the manner in which the recovered bodies have been disfigured, saw little possibility that life should have survived in the pit nearer the explosion.
Officials of the mine refused to give up hope of finding any of those entombed alive, but the grime covered rescue workers have just one word for inquirers -- "gas." One theory of the explosion was that a pocket of gas had been struck by one of the working faces in the mine. Veterans of the pit, including O'Hara, who has worked in the Mather mine four years agreed with this theory and gave the opinion that is was a coal dust explosion.
They believed a wreck had piled up a motor and a string of mine cars stiffing up a lot of coal dust, which had been ignited by a trolley wire. They cling to this theory even though the Mather mine, which was considered a model in modern methods of engineering efficiency, had been completely rock dusted, which is a method used in mines to avert explosions of coal dust.
Frank Bucsha was found alive and said to be in good condition after he was found 55 hours following
the Mather Mine explosion in Mather, Pennsylvania on May 19, 1928. 195 miners were killed in the blast of the mine owned by Pickands-Mather and Company.
Another miner, John Wade, was rescued from the same mine after 147 hours. Mine officials said he must have been wandering around in the mine and was missed by the rescuers. Source document
Note: The news article lists the company name as Mather Collieries Company, while the final investigation report states it to be Pickands-Mather and Company.