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49 miners died as a result of two explosions in the Zeigler Mine. In an effort to recover the entombed men, five rescuers were overcome by afterdamp. The rescuers were let down by hand. In two instances, the men above were nearly overcome by gas.
Zeigler Disaster is Terrible
Daily Free Press, Carbondale, Illinois
April 4, 1905
Zeigler, Illinois -- (AP) -- The number of the dead at the Leiter mine at Zeigler is thirty-eight. On account of the wrecked shaft the work of bringing up the dead is slow. The hastily prepared report in yesterday's Daily Free Press was in the main accurate.
William Atkinson, of Murphysboro, is among the dead. He was the state mine inspector of this, the seventh mining district, and was called to Zeigler early yesterday morning. He was one of the four who constituted a rescuing party and was overcome and died in the mine. John Lindsey, of Mulkeytown, a county mine inspector was also killed at the same time and in the same way.
William Atkinson was a native of England, 59 years of age. He first located at Harrisburg and then came to Murphysboro. He was a miner and later was for seven years a member of the Mining Board, and was in July last appointed to succeed Evan John, resigned, as State Mine Inspector. He was a Mason and member of the G.A.R. The funeral will be Friday.
Evan John, of this city, was a member of the rescuing party, and was overcome with gases, and taken out of the mine all but dead. He revived, however, and will accompany the remains of William Atkinson to Murphysboro tonight.
It is reported at Zeigler that J. C. Fink, formerly a resident of Carbondale, but employed as head carpenter at Zeigler, is among the known dead.
Benton, Ill., April 4. -- Some forty miners were entombed, Monday, is Joseph Leiter's mine at Zeigler, by a terrific explosion of gas and it is probable that thirty or more of the buried men are dead.
When between 35 and 40 miners had descended into the mine. Monday morning, to resume work, a terrific explosion blew the timbers about the mouth of the mine high into the air. One of the steel cages was blown to the surface from the bottom of a 560-foot shaft. The shock of the explosion was felt at Benton, 12 miles distant.
One miner was killed and four were severely injured at the mouth of the shaft in which the explosion occurred. The work of rescue was begun at once by miners who were arriving when the explosion took place, but the main shaft was demolished so that rescue work has to be carried on through the air shaft. This has hindered the work of aiding the entombed men to such an extent that when darkness fell Monday night only three bodies and one injured man had been brought to the surface. These bodies were found 40 feet from the bottom of the air shaft.
A committee of union miners from Duquoin and other neighboring towns, headed by District President Morris, hastened to Zeigler soon after the explosion and offered their aid.
The bodies of the dead are so blackened that they cannot at once be identified.
Partial list of the dead:
James Reyburn, engineer
J. P. Fink
William Atkinson, manager of mine
Rolly Campbell, was injured when brought out of the shaft, and died later in the evening. Campbell was conscious but he was unable to give any explanation of the accident.
There was much excitement among the miners when the accident became known, because there had been a strike of long duration and many conflicts had occurred between strikers and non-union members.
Up to ten o'clock Monday night 15 dead bodies had been recovered. The work of rescue is made very difficult and dangerous by the foulness of the air in the mine. Only two of the bodies found show marks of the explosion. Death in the other cases having evidently resulted from asphyxiation.
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