4 Still Missing, 25 Dead in W. Virginia Mine Blast

By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 6, 2010 5:46 AM CDT
Updated Apr 6, 2010 7:15 AM CDT
West Virginia State Police direct traffic at the entrance to Massey Energy's Upper Big Branch Coal Mine Monday, April 5, 2010 in Montcoal, W.Va.   (AP Photo/Jeff Gentner)
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(Newser) – Rescue teams are still holding out hope for four workers missing in a coal mine where a massive explosion killed 25 yesterday afternoon, but officials said today the chances were slim that the miners survived. The rescue mission suspended early this morning will resume this evening, after bore holes are drilled to allow for toxic gases to be ventilated from Massey Energy Co.'s sprawling Upper Big Branch mine about 30 miles south of Charleston, safety officials said.

Officials had hoped some of the missing survived the initial blast yesterday afternoon and were able to reach airtight chambers stocked with food, water and enough oxygen for them to live for four days. But rescue teams checked one of two nearby and it was empty. The buildup of toxic methane gas—a constant problem at the mine—and of carbon monoxide prevented teams from reaching other chambers, officials said. It is the most people killed in a US mine since 1984, when 27 died in a fire at Emery Mining Corp.'s mine in Orangeville, Utah. If the four missing bring the total to 29, it would be the most killed in a U.S. mine since a 1970 explosion killed 38 at Finley Coal Co., in Hyden, Kentucky. For the full story click here.

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