DISASTERS: Death at Black Mountain

In the murky depths of the Scotia Coal Company's No. 1 Black Mountain Mine, 108 men were at work one morning last week. Suddenly, four miles from the tunnel's entrance, a violent methane-gas explosion ripped through a passageway, shaking the pine-studded mountains of Oven Fork in southeastern Kentucky. Nine men died instantly. Six others survived the blast for a time with their portable air units. But apparently thinking their way out was blocked, the six shielded themselves from fumes with pieces of canvas and awaited rescuers; they were found dead of suffocation.

It took eight rescue teams twelve hours to...

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