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7 Dead, 19 Missing in West Virginia Mine CollapseSalem-News.com Staff Report
Search and rescue efforts are continuing.
(JULIAN, W.Va.) - A mine collapse in West Virgina has claimed a number of miner's lives, while many more remain missing. It happened around 3:00 p.m. Eastern time at Massey Energy's Upper Big Branch mine in Raleigh County, about 30 miles south of Charleston
Don Blankenship, Chairman and CEO for Massey Energy Company that operates the mine, said, "It is with a heavy heart that Massey Energy confirms at this hour 7 dead and 19 miners unaccounted for. However, until we are able to notify next-of-kin, we will not release their names."
Some reports place the number of missing slightly higher.
Government statistics cited by The Wall Street Journal show coal-mining fatalities dropping in recent years. There were 18 in 2009, down from a reported 47 in 2006 in 2006.
Rescue efforts are continuing at this time, according to Blankenship, who said, "Our top priority is the safety of our miners and the well-being of their families. We are working diligently on rescue efforts and continue to partner with all of the appropriate agencies."
The National Mining Association (NMA) released a statement today stating that the mining Community is deeply saddened, and remains committed to mine safety.
Regarding the mining tragedy in West Virginia, the group said, "The nation’s mining community is deeply saddened by preliminary reports of fatalities and missing miners from an explosion at the Upper Big Branch coal mine in Raleigh County, West Virginia. Our thoughts and prayers are with the miners, their families, the rescue workers and all those affected by this tragedy."
They say today’s events are a tragic reminder of the work that remains to be done to achieve their goal of zero accidents in the nation’s mines.
"Our prayers go out to the families of the miners. We want to assure the families of all the miners we are taking every action possible to locate and rescue those still missing," said Blankenship.
Massey Energy Company, headquartered in Richmond, Virginia, with operations in West Virginia, Kentucky and Virginia, is the largest coal producer in Central Appalachia.
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