Around 3 pm today, residents of Montcoal, West Virginia heard an all too familiar sound of multiple sirens tearing through their small, close-knit mining town. 7 miners have been reported killed and 19 more are still missing.
The cause of the blast is unknown. However, that mine has had a series of safety violations, many resulting from not properly ventilating methane gas. According the the Washington Post:
Nine miners were leaving on a vehicle that takes them in and out of the long shaft, when a crew ahead of the them felt a blast of air and went back to investigate, said Kevin Stricklin, an administrator for the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration.
They found nine workers, seven of whom were dead. Two others were injured. Two other nine-person crews and a safety inspector who had been working alone were believed trapped, perhaps about a mile and a half underground, said Stricklin, an administrator for Coal Mine Safety and Health. Officials do not believe that the roof collapsed.
Dozens of rescuers were at the scene about 30 miles south of Charleston, but it was unclear whether the mine was safe enough for them to enter and look for the trapped men.
Mining disasters are not uncommon to that area. The last West Virginia accident was at the Sago mine in 2006. A list of mining disasters in that area can be found at WVminesafety.org
I feel certain everyone’s thoughts and prayers will be for the victims, the missing, their families, and the town of Montcoal.
More information: Beckley Register-Herald
UPDATE: During the night the nmber of dead increased significantly. 🙁 (6:30 am 4/6/10)