NPR logo W.Virginia Mine Explosion; 7 Dead, 19 Missing

W.Virginia Mine Explosion; 7 Dead, 19 Missing

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Updated at 8:23 pm ET — The latest reports are that seven miners are dead and 19 are missing after an explosion at an underground mine in Montcoal, W. Virginia.

The Associated Press reports the following:

MONTCOAL, W.Va. (AP) - Massey Energy Co. says seven miners are
dead and another 19 unaccounted for in an explosion at an underground coal mine in West Virginia.

Massey CEO Don Blankenship said in a statement Monday that the company was working to rescue the missing miners. The company did not say whether any miners had been rescued.

State mining director Ron Wooten says the blast was reported around 3 p.m. at Massey's Upper Big Branch mine in Raleigh County, about 30 miles south of Charleston.

Charleston Area Medical Center spokeswoman Elizabeth Pellegrinsays one injured miner is in intensive care.

Updated at 6:26 pm ET — The Mine Safety and Health Administration recently updated its mine accident statistics page. It indicates there were 18 coal mining deaths last year all told. In 2008 there were 30 deaths. The MSHA also has a page with mine disaster statistics.

The three worst coal mine disasters were in the early 1900s with deaths in the hundreds. The worst coal mining accident since 1970 occurred that year in Hardin Country, Kentucky. Thirty eight miners were killed.

Updated at 6:07 pm ET — NPR has learned that six miners are dead and 21 are unaccounted for and one miner is in the hospital as the result of a mine explosion which apparently caused a roof collapse at a Massey Energy underground mine in Montcoal, W. Va. It goes without saying, this is already a substantial tragedy.

In a sad irony, on its homepage Monday afternoon Massey had an item boasting of its recent safety record:


In 2009, Massey recorded an all-time best NFDL incident rate (a measure of lost-time accidents) of 1.67. This is an improvement over last year's rate of 1.93, our previous best result. By comparison, the bituminous coal mining industry average NFDL rate was 2.95 in 2008. 2009 marked the 6th consecutive year and the 17th year out of the past 20 years in which Massey's safety performance was stronger than the industry average.

Updated at 5:55 pm ET — The website of WSAZ TV in Huntington, W.Va. is reporting that a roof collapsed in the Massey Energy mine and that there are miners trapped.

MONTCOAL, W.Va. (WSAZ) — It is a worst nightmare for families of coal miners. An explosion has been reported at a mine in Raleigh County. Dispatchers tell this all happened around 4:30 Monday afternoon at Performance Coal Company's Upper Big Branch Mine in Montcoal. That's near Whitesville along the Boone- Raleigh county line.

Performance Coal is a subsidiary of Massey Energy. A spokesperson for Massey says that there was an explosion at the mine and miners are trapped underground. The company says mine rescue teams along with MSHA and state investigators are heading to the scene.

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Massey Energy is reporting an explosion at one of its West Virginia mines about 30 miles south of Charleston. No details yet on whether miners are trapped or injuries.

Here's what the Associated Press is reporting:

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - Massey Energy says an explosion has occurred at one of its underground West Virginia coal mines but did not say if there were injuries or if any miners are trapped.

The company says the explosion happened at its Upper Big Branch mine in Raleigh County, about 30 miles south of Charleston. The company did not provide details on the extent of the damage.

The mine is operated by Massey subsidiary Performance Coal Co.

State Office of Miners' Health Safety and Training spokeswoman Jama (JAY muh) Jarrett says mine emergency crews are heading to the scene but she had no details.