Today In History – 10 Cape Bretoners Dead, Six Injured In Mine Explosion, 700 Meters Under Ocean Floor

In the wee morning hours of February 24, 1979 around 4:10 am at the No. 26 Colliery in Glace Bay, NS an explosion inside the mine shattered the lives of many.

Before the blast, seven hundred meters under the Atlantic Ocean and nine kilometers from the entrance to the mine, sixteen Cape Bretoners were going about their livelihoods of mining coal.

Methane had unknowingly built up and sparks ignited it creating an explosion that roared through the mine. It travelled a far distance fueled by lingering coal dust.

No. 26 Colliery, Glace Bay, 1977. Photograph by Owen Fitzgerald. Beaton Institute, Cape Breton University.

A miner on the surface who felt the concussion of the blast contacted the mine manager. The mine was owned by the Cape Breton Development Corporation (DEVCO). By 4:50 am rescuers reached the site and found ten dead miners and six badly injured men.

The miners had burns to 40% to 90% of their bodies when taken to the Glace Bay Community Hospital. They were later transported to the Victoria General Hospital in Halifax where two more men would die on March 8 and March 22.

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