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Mine explosion rocks Springhill

In the 1950s, the town of Springhill, N.S., was devastated by two of the worst mining disasters in Canadian history. An explosion in 1956 killed 39 miners, and another 74 died in the "bump" of 1958. Despite much hardship, the people of Springhill have shown a will to survive that is tougher than coal.

On Nov. 1, 1956, the town of Springhill is rocked by a terrible explosion in the No. 4 colliery of the Cumberland mines. At least three miners are dead. Between 108 and 155 are still trapped 960 metres underground. The town responds with a crew of rescuers called "draegermen." Fears rise when it is reported that all communication with the trapped miners has been cut off.
• "Draegermen" were named for the oxygen packs they wore. The packs were invented by a German company called Dräger that supplied breathing apparatus to mining and other industries in the 1930s. The 1956 explosion in Springhill was the first use of the apparatus in a Canadian rescue operation.
Medium: Radio
Program: Assignment
Broadcast Date: Nov. 1, 1956
Guest(s):
Host: Bill McNeil
Duration: 0:56

Last updated: January 12, 2012

Page consulted on December 6, 2013

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