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OUR AUSTRALIAN LETTER., Issue 7948, 2 July 1889
OUR AUSTRALIAN LETTER.
[From Oub Melbourne Correspondent.]
Melbourne, June 25. COLLISION IN HOBSON BAY.
A startling disaster occurred in Hobson Bay on Sunday evening off Williamstown, resulting in the immediate loss of tie Cape Verde, a fine large vessel, which hid just arrived from London. The Cape Verde was anchored at the gunpowder gronnd, having on board 100 tons of explosives, and was duly protected by a riding light. The lolanthe, another large vessel, came in from Liverpool about 6.30 on Sunday night, and ran into the Cape Verde with such force that the anchored vessel filled and went down in 42ft of water in less than five minutes. The crew of the Cape Verde, thirty-three all told, had to escape to the rigging, and Baved nothing but what they stood in. Their ship went down stern first, and the water came into the ringing, but all hands were safely got off by small boats from the lolanthe and the Falls of Foyers, a vessel anchored to the south of the Cape Verde. It appears that tue lolanthe was just able to clear the bows of the Falls of Foyers, but wos unable to pass the bows of the Cape Verde, and made an effort to go by the stern of the latter vessel, when, owing to the relative positions of the vessels, the lolanthe did not succeed in paying off enough, and struck the Cape Verde at an angle near the cabin. The crew of the Cape Verde are considered to have had a marvellous escape, as the force of the collision struck fire from the ironwork, and it is believed that had the lolanthe struck into the gunpowder a terrible explosion must have taken place. The following narrative is given by Captain Mitchell, master of the Cape Verde, concerning the accident:—" We only came into port on Saturday, after being ninetynine days out from London. We had a very rough time of it running the easting down, And one of the men got badly injured off the Cape; but we were lying snugly at anchor off Williamstown with a general cargo of merchandise and rather more than 100 tons of gunpowder stowed away in the main hatch when the collision took place. We were lying, I should judge, about a mile and a-half from the breakwater, to leeward of the Falls of Foyers, which had also juat arrived from London, and I was sitting in my cabin under the poop, while the first mate (Archibald Menzieß) was on deck. Suddenly he aang out to me that there was a ship coming right into us, and, jamming a cap on my head, I ran out just in time to see a fullringed ship ooming at about eight knots an hour right into us. I sang out to all hands to go for'ard, for I saw that she was bound tt strike as abaft the mainmast, and I had the lashings at the davits cut away, bo that the boats might go adrift, and not sink with the ship, if the worst came to the worst. She struck us between the main and mizzen rigging, and if she had been coming stem on she must have gone clean through us; for as it was, though she came in at an angle, she went halfway through us; and how she got clear of us afc all is a mystery to me. I felt a bit sick when I recollected the hundred tons of powder in the main hatch, and saw the lolanthe coming dead on to it, but she sheered off just before ■he reached us, and the crash came about 4ft abaft the magazine. The sparks from the conoussion flew up in showers. It was just like a blacksmith striking a lump of hot iron, and if one of them had touched the powder, we'd all have gone to glory. I knew that we'd be pretty safe forard, and all hands were up the fore-rigging without losing much time. Good job, too, for she sank in three minutes. She canted over to port heavily as soon as the water began to pour in, and I was afraid she was going to capsize, but Bhe went down steadily into «even fathoms of water, and we were left high and dry in the rigging. I was nervous •bout the apprentices, but we got them all up in safety at last. On board the lolanthe, as far as I could judge, they were brailing np ithe spanker just before they struck us, and were coming in with the wind on their quarter. They had just weathered the Falls of Foyers, and as they had no room to luff np and clear ns too, they tried to come down between us and the Falls of Foyers; Of course it was impossible to bring a ship of that Bize round in such a small space,
The mate of the Falls of Foyers told me ( afterwards that he saw a collision was inevitable. The Falls of Foyers sent us a I boat directly, and the lolanthe sent us' another, and picked off all the rest of us. I We have lost every stitch belonging to js, j and 1 suppose the Board of Trade will have | to give me another certificate, for mine has j gone down with tho ship." The officers of the lolanthe disclaim all responsibility for the collision, as the vessel was at the time in charge of Pilot T. Gaffard, of Williamstown. The Cape Verde and cargo were insured for L 45.000. It has been agreed by the Merchant Shipping and Underwriters' Association that a diver shall be sent down to ascertain the condition of the vessel. When this has been done action will be taken with the view of recovering as much of the cargo as possible and beaching the wrecked ship, which it is hoped may yet see further service. Captain Mitchell thinks that the damage done to the Cape Verde has been exaggerated. He believes that a huge hole has been made in her side, but that her port-quarter has not been cut away as stated by the chief officer. An inquiry into the cause of the collision will shortly be held by the Marine Board. COLLIERY DISASTER. A terrible colliery disaster took place at the Australian Agricultural Company's glebe pit, near Newcastle, last Saturday. It appears that a large area of this coal mine has been worked out, and a number of men were engaged in taking down the coal pillars, pulling up the rails, and removing timbers. For a day or two before the disaster happened, ominous sounds had been heard in the mine, showing that the strain of the overhanging mass was becoming too great for the weakened supports to bear, hut the old hands seemed to be of the opinion that there was plenty of timt to finish the work of stripping before any serious danger was to be apprehended. At breakfast time on Saturday the noises were so threatening that several men left the workings in alarm, but the majority preferred to risk their lives rather than lose their wages. Only a few minutes after the younger men had again consulted the old hands as to the impending danger the crash came. With a deafening roar, as of a mighty earthquake, the roof and sides of a lavge section of the mine fell in. There were between thirty and forty men working in the section, and of these eleven were entombed. The others escaped in a marvellous manner. The rush of air blew their lights out, and they groped about for two hours in the darkness, amidst falling rocks, before they were found by a rescuing party, which had ventured down and repaired a portion of tho main drive sufficiently to ad'-ance towards the portion of the mine where the collapse had taken place. One man in making his way out was knooked down by a piece of rock which fell on him. He was unable to get up and continuo his journey; but a companion who was following him was seen no more, and it is feared he has been killed. Another party heard a man groaning in a drive, but were unable to get near him. The rescue party were at tho time the mail left still at work, and there was hope that several more of the imprisoned miners might be rescued alive, as tVie air was good. Some of the men who escaped from the pit had remarkable experiences. Edward Sullivan, a miner, who was working in Martin's heading at the time the root collapsed, in company with William Young, heard the fall, and with his mate rushed out and ran along the heading until he was knocked down and held fast by the leg by the fallen debris. He was extricated by his mate, and they then crawled along over the fallen rock and coal until they reached the other workings, where they met Jabez Roberts, a very old miner, who was badly hurt. They stayed with him a little time, and while following him as he era wled_ along in the dark, stumbled across a coat lying on the ground, which fortunately contained a box of matches. Sullivan and his companions were inspired with great hopes by this piece of good fortune, and the feelings of despair, to which they had previously begun to give way, as they groped about aimlessly in the dense gloom, were to a large extent dispelled. When lighted the match disclosed to view two lamps a few feet away. Sullivan and Young then started off in their search for light and air; while Roberts, finding that he was too weak to fol'ow them, stayed behind. The old man was bleeding very badly, but his more fortunate mates made him as comfortablo as possible before they left him, with a bottle of tea as some small comfort in his terrible loneliness. The two men, on starting off, took slightly different directions, and Sullivan, before going far, heard a cry for help, and found young Peate completely buried, and beyond reach of such assistance as he could give Bingle-handed. Leaving the unfortunate lad with a promise that he would come back to his aid, if he could possibly find his way out, he went on, clambering over various falls, but at last found himself completely blocked, and had to turn back. He found his mato and five others in the portion of the mine known as the flat, from which they knocked a hole through the stoning, and gradually worked their way, after much blind wandering about, until they reached tho spot at which they were heard by the relief party and were rescued. Two other miners, named Duncan andM 'Dougall, who were working in Hayes's heading, after much scrambling about over falls, and experiencing many narrow escapes in the darkness, found their way on to the flat, and eventually escaped with Young, Sullivan, and others. These men state that one of their mates, named Masson, was caught in the fall, and they also say that they attempted to extricate John Peate, but had to give up the task as beyond their power. The whole of these seven men, who met on the flat, and eventually found their way out of the mine together, undoubtedly owe their lives to the fortunate discovery of the matches and lamps by Sullivan and Young. Tho men seem to have found their way into the old horse track, which was closed many years ago, and, after breaking through portions that were closed up, they gradually worked their way into the main drive of the old borehole pit. This circuitous route of upwards of three miles took them round one side of the portion of the mine which had collapsed, and after they had mido their escape one of the rescue parties tried to get round by the same way to the further side of tho fall; but it was found that nothing effectual could be done, owing to the blocking of the crosscut section of the mine. .ANOTHER AUSTRALIAN ELEVEN.
There is every probability of another team of Australian cricketers visiting England during the season of 1890, and so far as can be at present judged the seventh Australian Eleven is likely to be quite equal in strength to any of its predecessors. Leading English cricketers like Lord Harris, Mrlvoßligh, Lord Hawke, and others have expressed their conviction that the British public are prepared to welcome and support Australian elevens once in two years, and past experience has shown that the success of the undertaking is assured, provided the team be strong enough to sustain the prestige of Australian cricket in England. Some months back Mr H. F. Boyle, a great supporter of cricket, placed himself in communication with a number of the beat Australian players, with a view to the formation of a team, and the result has so far been highly satisfactory. The cricketing public will be glad to learn that Australia's paragon batsman, Mr W. L. Murdoch, has promised to go into practice in the early spring, with a view to joining the team (as captain, of course) if he be satisfied that he can regain his old form. Should he do ao, his services would be invaluable, as the famous batsman has frequently shown in the most important contests with the foremost of English cricketers that he is pre-eminently the right man in the right placeas captain of an Australian eleven. Mr Boyle has also secured promises of support from Messrs Turner, Ferris, Trott, and Blackham, who will all join the team if satisfactoryarrangements can be made for the absence of such of them as are engaged in business. These form the nucleus of a powerful team, and, with Murdoch at the head, Giflen will probably be willing to take part in the enterprise; and it need not be said that the celebrated South Australian is absolutely the most valuable man of the lot, being at the present time probably the best all-round player in the world. Should Giffen join, the six named and one other to be appointed will select the remainder, and by this means
the strongest available eleven in Australia is sure to be chosen. As Mr White's colts will, all being well, race in England next year, and Searle and Slaviu will have endeavored each in his own line to maintain his athletic reputation, it is evident that in the field of sport Australia will be very prominently before the British public during the next twelve or eighteen months.
OUR AUSTRALIAN LETTER., Issue 7948, 2 July 1889
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