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The miracle miners

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 Wed., Oct. 29, rescuers hear voices through the coal. Twelve miners, trapped over three kilometres down, are discovered alive after six days with no food or water. Seven more are discovered after eight days. People around the world rejoice as news of the "miracle miners" spreads. The miners recount their desperation for survival. In order to breathe, the men poked holes in the plastic pipes that provided air through the mine.

To stave off death from dehydration, some of the men resorted to drinking their own urine. Following the recovery of the last bodies, the death toll stood at 74. One hundred miners survived. The mines were sealed soon after and Springhill ceased to be a mining town.
. On Nov. 1, 1958, Prince Philip visited the disaster site and spoke with survivors in hospital. He sat at the bedside of the injured miners who offered first-hand accounts of the ordeals. He also went for tea at the home of Mary Raper, the wife of one of the miners who died.
Medium: Television
Program: CBC Television News
Broadcast Date: Nov. 1, 1958
Guest(s): Glen MacDonald
Duration: 1:58

Last updated: January 12, 2012

Page consulted on March 11, 2014

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