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Mine Disasters in
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O'Brien Coal Company
O'Brien Mine Explosion

Lovilia, Iowa
March 30, 1953
No. Killed - 5



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Rescuer Deaths

Three of the victims of the O'Brien mine disaster were men in an inspection party which entered the mine several hours after the original explosion.  They were Gerald Lane, 59; James Love, 54, and Thomas Little, 48.  They were in a party of five which entered the mine to look it over.  Love earlier had been a member of the squad which brought out the bodies of Harold Barnes and Ben Nichols.


Mine Explosion Takes 5 Lives
Manitowoc Herald-Times, Wisconsin
March 31, 1953

Lovilia, Ia. (AP) -- An explosion in the O'Brien Coal Company's shaft mine near this southern Iowa village took five lives late Monday.  Three of the victims were men in an inspection party which entered the mine several hours after the original blast.

Monroe County Coroner F. N. Bay said all the deaths apparently resulted from asphyxiation.  Harold Barnes, 33, mine foreman, and Ben Nichols, 47, described as an experienced "shot firer" were found dead in the mine early Monday evening.  Their bodies were behind a pile of debris caused by an explosion.

The mine employs about 14 miners.  All but Barnes and Nichols had left for the day before the explosion occurred.  A mine inspector said the pair had been setting off black powder blasts to loosen coal.

Later Monday night the mine claimed three more victims.  They were Gerald Lane, 59; James Love, 54, and Thomas Little, 48.  They were in a party of five which entered the mine to look it over, the coroner said.

Two survivors in the party of five stumbled to the mine entrance and told how their companions had been overcome.  A rescue party reached the three bodies but was forced out by bad air before the bodies could be removed.

Love earlier had been a member of the squad which brought out the bodies of Barnes and Nichols.



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