Miners Rescued After Nine Days in Pit (Jan, 1924)

I thought this one was topical.

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Miners Rescued After Nine Days in Pit

Trapped by Flood Waters from an Underground Stream, with Only Crust of Bread as Food

IMPRISONED for nine days far below the surface in the damp workings of a flooded mine in Scotland, their only food a single slice of bread, five miners recently were found alive, and not seriously harmed by their experience. The same waters that trapped them caught 75 others, some of whom, near the surface, escaped alive.

For more than a week in the inky darkness, the men wandered about the chambers untouched by the flood, seeking fresh air and a means of exit. Lights were impossible, for the explosive “black damp” was too heavy, yet the little group steadfastly resolved to perish or live together. On the first day they waded waist deep to a place of safety, where, when pangs of hunger attacked them, they divided the slice of bread. The second day passed, after hours of torment and anxious waiting for sounds that would indicate rescue crews were blasting their way toward the barrier behind which the victims finally had stationed themselves. Near the end of the first 48 hours, a dull boom broke the tomblike silence. It was quickly followed by another, and still another. To the imprisoned, the shots brought joy and hope, for they heralded the approach of help. Hands were clasped and thanks voiced for their expected deliverance. But their hopes soon dwindled as the long hours dragged on and it became apparent that their would-be rescuers faced more than a possibility of losing the race against time.

Yet not entirely giving way to despair, the five waited expectantly behind their shelter, crawling up and down the workings to keep from becoming cold and cramped, and occasionally making their way to the under-ground stream to drink. Farewell notes were prepared for loved ones.

But no other eyes ever saw their letters. For, just as the ninth day was drawing to a close, the raspings of picks on the walls of their living crypt were plainly heard. Their vigil was almost ended.

As the last blow was struck by the rescuers, the sandstone wall opened. A hand was thrust forward from within and a voice was asking for a cigarette. The first one to reach the imprisoned men was a young miner.

“I never saw a cheerier lot of lads than those men at that moment,” he said. “The strange thing about it is that, even with good air, they were able to endure such a long time underground. I should fancy men would have been driven insane by such an experience.”

Displaying but a few outward signs of the effect of their lengthy imprisonment, the five crawled to the tunnel that led to freedom and the world above, insisting on going to the shaft unaided. Above ground, physicians met them, but only one was found near a state of complete collapse.

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