10 April 2010

Worst Fears Realized

Rescue workers have found the bodies of the four miners missing since Monday's underground blast after days of hoping to find them alive, The Associated Press reports.

With 29 killed, "it is the worst coal mine disaster in the U.S. since 1970 when 38 were killed at Finley Coal Co. in Hyden, Ky.," the article said.

09 April 2010

Once More Unto the Breach

Officials estimate that rescue crew have re-entered the Upper Big Branch mine after pumping in five truckloads of nitrogen to flush out toxic gas and starve any fire of oxygen in the section where they hope to find four missing miners, The Associated Press reports.

(Headline corrected. Sorry, Shakespeare fans.)

Quote of the Day

"I just knew that Josh in his heart knew that something was going to happen."

-- Pam Napper, the mother of one of at least 25 miners killed in Monday's explosion at the Upper Big Branch mine. She told The Associated Press that he left a conditional farewell note with family over the weekend, and expressed concerns about the mine's ventilation.

A Long, Difficult Night (2nd Update)

Rescuers are down to one refuge chamber in their search for the missing miners, but signs of fire have forced them yet again to withdraw to the surface, The Associated Press reports.

Gov. Joe Manchin said crews continue to drill a hole near that final chamber, with plans to lower in a camera to check it out. Rescuers have also poured nitrogen into the mine to combat the toxic gas levels there.

Update: AP is covering the ongoing story on several additional fronts:

  • Manchin tells AP that six of the dead were found on a second mantrip vehicle, deeper inside the mine from where rescuers recovered six dead and three injured in another mantrip. One of those injured died soon afterward.
Update: One family tells AP that miner killed left farewell note, fears about mine's ventilation.

08 April 2010

Quote of the Day

"The miners that they found, it doesn't look like anyone was alarmed or warned that something as this horrific was going to happen... When you find people just sitting in the mantrip, as if they're just waiting to go out and they're still there? That tells me there was no panic."

-- Gov. Joe Manchin to The Associated Press, on early indications from the deadly mine explosion in Raleigh County.

Another Setback (Updated)

The Associated Press reports that poisonous gas and the threat of another explosion has again forced back rescue teams seeking to find four missing men in the Upper Big Branch mine.

One officials said "he hoped crews would be able to get back in within a few hours after a bigger hole was drilled to allow fresh air into the mine," the article said. "They were leaving their equipment behind so they did not have to lug it back in with them when they returned."

Update: A company official provides details from the frustrating turn, but also offered a silver lining, AP reports.

J. Christopher Adkins, chief operating officer of Massey Energy Co., said the teams spotted an alternate pathway for the next attempt as they withdrew.

"When they came out, they found a route where we think we can take a permissable ride, which is basically like a small four-wheeler," Adkins said. "We think we found a route that can get us up there quicker."

Rescuers Re-Enter the Mine

Gov. Joe Manchin told reporters this morning that four rescue teams totaling 32 men re-entered the Upper Big Branch Mine at 4:55 a.m. to resume the search for hoped-for survivors, The Associated Press reports.

"They are advancing," Manchin said. "They'll move as rapidly as they possibly can."

07 April 2010

Rescue Efforts Continue (Updated)

The Associated Press updates on efforts to vent toxic gas from the Raleigh County coal mine where four men remain missing following Monday's explosion.

AP also talked to a miner who was working in a separate section of the Upper Big Branch Mine and so escaped the blast. His brother is among the dead, but a nephew survived.

Update: The miners' families get an in-person morale boost from WVU men's basketball coach Bobby Huggins, AP reports.

Keeping Hope Alive

Rescue crews have drilled the first of four holes meant to gauge the air in Upper Big Branch Mine and pump out the toxic gas that has kept them out since late Monday, The Associated Press reports.

While rescuers got no response to signals sent down that initial bore shaft, Gov. Joe Manchin noted that the nearest rescue chamber is about a football field's length away from where the drill punched through the mine section.

Manchin said they hope to assess the air quality between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Once rescuers can re-enter the mine, it is expected to take several hours to reach where survivors may have sought refuge.

AP also reports separately on the track record of the mine and its owner, Massey Energy Co.

06 April 2010

Tragedy at Montcoal (Updated)

Federal mine safety officials say that 12 miners were killed, two were injured and 10 remain missing following a 3 p.m. explosion at a Massey Energy subsidiary mine in Raleigh County, The Associated Press and others report.

(Headline corrected)

Update: The death toll has risen to 25. With two still listed as injured, four miners remain missing. Toxic gas and the threat of another explosion has forced the rescue teams to evacuate the mine for now. Rescuers will attempt to ventilate that section with bore holes so they can resume their efforts. AP has details.