Two Trapped Miners Found Dead in West Virginia

Searchers have recovered the bodies of two coal miners missing since a fire broke out on Thursday. Anna Sale of West Virginia Public Radio fills Debbie Elliott in on the details.

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In West Virginia, the bodies of two miners missing since Thursday have been found. They were found together, near the fire which had burned in the coal mine since Thursday evening.

Anna Sale with West Virginia Public Broadcasting is on the line with us now from the town of Melville near the mine sight. Hello, Anna.

Ms. ANNA SALE (Reporter, West Virginia Public Radio): Hello, Debbie.

ELLIOTT: You have just found out that the two men were found. What did state and federal officials say?

Ms. SALE: We found out just about 20 minutes ago. They told us that they found the men together near the fire, near where the mine fire has been burning since about Thursday evening. They said it looks like they didn't suffer long. The temperature was so high and the carbon monoxide levels were so high that they didn't last long. However, it took them so long to get to the men because of the fire. It took so long to get the fire under control

ELLIOTT: It took them so long to get to the men because the fire was burning that they think that's why they died?

Ms. SALE: Absolutely. Because of the extremely high temperatures and the high levels of carbon monoxide is what an official said -- from the Mine Safety and Health Administration said.

ELLIOTT: Is there any idea how long the men have been dead?

Ms. SALE: They said that it looks like they did not last long. Like I said, it took so long to get to them because they had such a difficult time containing the fire. It wasn't until this afternoon that the fire got to the level where rescue teams were able to reach the men.

ELLIOTT: The two men had been identified earlier today. Can you tell us who they were?

Ms. SALE: Yes, the youngest of them was named Don Bragg. He and his wife, Delores, had two children and he lived in Logan County. He was 33 years old.

The other is Ellery Hatfield, he went by Elvis. He and his wife, Frida, had four kids and he lived Wyoming County which is another southern West Virginia County -- 47 years old.

Both men had over a dozen years experience mining coal and they both started mining about five years ago in this particular mine.

ELLIOTT: Is there any information yet on what caused this fire?

Ms. SALE: Officials have said that it looks like it started on the conveyer belt, which is the belt that moves through the mine and moves coal. So unlike the Sago mine disaster it wasn't an explosion, it looks like or that it was a fire that started on this conveyor belt.

ELLIOTT: Thank you Anna Sale of West Virginia Public Broadcasting speaking with us from Melville, West Virginia. Thank you, Anna.

Ms. SALE: Thank you, Debbie.

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