DISASTERS: This Is a Bad One

At 7:30 p.m., miners in the deep galleries of Illinois' New Orient Coal Mine No. 2 froze in their tracks, stood staring and listening in the dark. Their ears felt clogged by a sudden compression of air. Wind touched their faces. Some heard a low, distant rumbling and a rattle of doors. That was all. They began to run, heading for the 535-ft. elevator shaft which was their first hope of escape.

As they converged on it, the choking breath of disaster caught them. Heat, smoke and blinding eddies of thick coal dust...

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