25 dead after mine explosion in West Virginia

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Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Twenty-five miners are confirmed dead, two injured, and four missing, after an explosion in a West Virginia coal mine Monday. The incident occurred in the Upper Big Branch mine in Montcoal, West Virginia. It is the deadliest mining accident in the United States since 1984.

Search and rescue operations were suspended Tuesday due to high levels of methane gas which made conditions unsafe for rescuers. A team attempting to ventilate the mine is expected to complete the work by Wednesday evening. Officials said that it was unlikely that the missing miners were still alive, although they would not stop efforts until they were found.

The mine is owned by Massey Energy but operated by Performance Coal Company, a subsidiary of Massey, which is the fourth largest coal producer in the US. Federal officials have fined Massey nearly US $900,000 after numerous safety violations were found at the mine that suffered the explosion. To date, Massey has paid around $170,000.

US President Barack Obama held a prayer breakfast in the White House Tuesday morning. He said that "I would ask for the faithful who are gathered here to pray for the safe return of the missing, the men and women who put their lives on the line to save them and the souls that have been lost in this tragic accident. May they rest in peace, and may their families find comfort in the hard days ahead."


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