Search Crews Enter Mine, Seek Last 4 Miners
But there's little hope they're still alive
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 8, 2010 6:48 AM CDT
A miner's gear is displayed with a banner during a candlelight vigil Wednesday, April 7, 2010, in Whitesville, W.Va.   (Mark Humphrey)
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(Newser) – Rescue crews began working their way by rail car and on foot through a West Virginia coal mine early this morning in search of four miners missing since a blast killed 25 colleagues in the worst US mining disaster in more than two decades. Gov. Joe Manchin said crews entered the Upper Big Branch mine at 4:55am and hoped to reach the miners' likely location by noon. "They are advancing," Manchin told an early morning news briefing. "They'll move as rapidly as they possibly can."

Rescuers had to wait to enter the mine until crews drilled holes deep into the earth to ventilate lethal carbon monoxide, highly explosive hydrogen, as well as methane gas, which has been blamed for the explosion. The air quality was deemed safe enough for four teams of eight members each to go on what officials were still calling a rescue mission. But officials and townsfolk alike admitted they didn't expect to find any of the four missing miners alive. Poisonous gases have filled the underground tunnels since Monday afternoon's blast.