Sadness Swells Across W.Va. Mining Communities A West Virginia mining community is mourning the loss of more than two dozen miners. A bell sounded Saturday for each of the 29 killed in the Upper Big Branch mine explosion, the worst in the U.S. in 40 years.
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Sadness Swells Across W.Va. Mining Communities

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Sadness Swells Across W.Va. Mining Communities

Sadness Swells Across W.Va. Mining Communities

Sadness Swells Across W.Va. Mining Communities

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/125829416/125829373" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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A West Virginia mining community is mourning the loss of more than two dozen miners. A bell sounded Saturday for each of the 29 killed in the Upper Big Branch mine explosion, the worst in the U.S. in 40 years.

LIANE HANSEN, Host:

NPR's Allison Keyes attended a service last night and has this report.

CLYBURN: Grover Schemes(ph).

(SOUNDBITE OF A CHURCH BELL)

CLYBURN: Adam Morgan.

(SOUNDBITE OF A CHURCH BELL)

ALLISON KEYES: They came wearing uniforms from coal mines from miles around, denim with neon stripes of bright green and orange and reflective strips on the sleeves and pockets. They held hands. They held each other. They cried and they honored the men Bishop J.L. Clyburn called real American heroes.

CLYBURN: As their mining lives extinguished in that dark mine in that dark place, the true light, the light of the world was the first rescuer on the scene.

(SOUNDBITE OF CONGREGANTS)

KEYES: There were women and children, too, crying right along with Bishop Stephen Board(ph) who talked about attending the wake of Robert Clark(ph), one of the miners killed last Monday.

STEPHEN BOARD: And as I walked up to that casket and I looked at Robert's body, I could not help but think of his soul being transported to the portals of glory.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "GO REST HIGH ON THAT MOUNTAIN)

KEYES: Coalminer Rob Sturdel(ph) came here after work and tried to put into words the brotherhood miners feel, working in a profession they know is dangerous.

ROB STURDEL: I've kept up with it. Guys at work have kept up with it. It's just part of the family.

TONI DANIEL: My daddy was a coalminer. My uncle is a coalminer right now, as we speak.

KEYES: Toni Daniel came to support all of the families and says dealing with this tragedy has been really hard. But she admires the strength of both the miners and the women who support them.

DANIEL: The bottom-line: coalmining is just as dangerous as if you're going to be on an airplane, if you get on a train, or if you get out here on the interstate to travel to one place from the next. You know, it's just - you have to get on your knees and pray every single day, every single night.

CLYBURN: Steven Harrah(ph)...

(SOUNDBITE OF A CHURCH BELL)

KEYES: Allison Keyes, NPR News, Raleigh County, West Virginia.

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