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Members of relief rescue crew wait to descend into the Centralia No. 5 Mine, Centralia, IL, where 111 miners were killed in an explosion March 25, 1947.

Picture of Early Mine rescue Men

The explosion was caused when an underburdened shot or blown-out shot ignited coal dust. The mine was exceedingly dry and dusty. Heavy deposits of coal dust were present along the roadways and on the roof, ribs, and timbers in working places and entries. At the time of the explosion most of the men were at the man trips on the entries waiting for the shot firers to complete lighting the shots so they could ride to the shaft bottoms on the man trips. At the time of the explosion 142 men were in the mine. Of those, 65 were killed by burns and violence and 45 by afterdamp. Eight men were rescued but one died from the effects of afterdamp. Twenty-four escaped unaided.

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