Howard Berkes Howard Berkes is a correspondent for the NPR Investigations Unit.
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Howard Berkes

Chilean President Sebastian Pinera holds up a plastic bag Sunday in Copiapo, Chile, containing a message from the trapped miners that reads, "We are OK in the refuge, the 33 miners." Hector Retamal/AP hide caption

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Hector Retamal/AP

Massey Eyes Methane As Cause Of Mine Blast

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Don L. Blankenship, chairman and chief executive officer of Massey Energy Company (left), watches as protesters disrupt a luncheon at the National Press Club, where he spoke on Thursday. Wayne Huang/NPR hide caption

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Wayne Huang/NPR

Methane monitors are mounted on 30-foot-long continuous miners like this one, and other mining machines, to warn coal miners about dangerous levels of explosive methane gas. File photo hide caption

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File photo

Methane monitors are mounted on 30-foot-long continuous miners like this one because methane gas collects in pockets near the roofs of mines. File photo hide caption

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File photo