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

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)

10 Thoughts to “25 Killed, 4 Missing in WV Mining Blast”

  1. That is so sad! Light a candle for the victims and their families.

    My mother called, nervous that the explosion happened near us. For some reason, she confuses West VA with VA.

  2. Many people confuse West Va with VA, including google.
    My best friend is from WV, actually about 40-50 miles from that mine. She says in towns like that the mine is just part of the culture, even if no family members are actually miners.

    How incredibly sad. I suppose that there are just some things that can never be made safe.

  3. Wolverine

    One would do well to take a look at the Too Conservative blog on the subject of this mine and mining safety. What started off as a criticism of the NLS blog for trying to place blame on the Cooch, of all people, for this situation turned into an excellent account of the safety issues with regard to this very mine, conducted by an individual who had actually been involved with it and knows mining safety procedures, with additions by others who have actually been in the mines or lived in mining towns. Very educational exchange for those who have little first-hand knowledge of this subject.

  4. What does the VA AG have to do with mining safety in WV?

  5. Ok, I got the answer to that. Wolverine, we might have to butt heads on this one. Too Conservative couldn’t lay off the typical Democrats’ lines and the digs. Blue VA got in a few typical Republican swipes also. However, reading through the swipes, I think there might be a little more to the story than meets the eye.

    It seems that there have been a lot of high ticket campaign contributions to McDonnell, Bolling and Cuccinelli from Massey who owns these mines and most of WV. There have been a bunch of violtions. Tazwell mine is owned by Massey. It has been cited by the feds.

    The whole Massey and Blankenship things sounds like Chicago politics to me. I will let Lowell and too Conservative work it out with the swipes. Meanwhile, I get concerned over who gives out what to whom. But then again, I think most people i n politics are prostitutes. Someone owns almost everyone, I am sorry to say. We should keep an eye on mining safety is probably what I walk away with…plus some folks’ lives have been altered forever. I don’t think the Virginians had a darn thing to do with it.

  6. Wolverine

    Moon, I don’t know if we can actually butt heads on this one. I agree that in politics somebody always seems to be “owned” by somebody else. Party label makes no difference. That’s one of the things which has made me into a Tea Party guy. I have become totally disgusted with our political scene as currently constituted. Private enterprise? Unions? Big money guys on The Street? What the Hell, I’m on the outside looking in far too often.

    As for this particular mine accident, I have been wondering how the AG could possibly be a fall guy, even with political contributions. Mine safety is a Federal job. Moreover, this mine accident occurred in a state which is currently under Democratic lock and key. If there is blame, there is probably enough to go around to many places. One thing I did see on the web, however, from a guy described as an expert on mining safety. Accidents caused by methane gas inside the mines are almost impossible to avoid totally because of the volatile nature of that gas and the difficulty in sealing in closed parts of a mine where the gas may collect and become dangerous. You’ve gotta wonder what kind of guts it takes to be a coal miner — and the same for their families who sit and wait every day for the end of the shift.

  7. Wolverine

    BTW, did you catch that statement by the guy on Too Conservative about his grandfather in the coal mines? The grandfather crawled in through a narrow hole at the start of the shift and crawled back out through the same hole at the end of the shift, never being able to stand upright during all the hours in between. How somebody could do that for a living and not go bonkers is beyond me.

  8. Wolverine, I have no idea. What amazes me thinking back to the Sago disaster is how old some of those men were to be doing that kind of work. Geez. That has got to be young man’s work and not for long because it ages you real fast health wise.

    I think we agree pretty much on this. And you are right, someone has to be owned by someone. And I don’t know what you do about it.

    I hope the thread on mine safety gives us an opportunity to talk about that subject. And it might be political. I doubt we can hang it on a specific party, however.

  9. Wolverine, I think WV is a red state now, at least in presidential races. I don’t know how the unions fit in now. Maybe not that many union members? I will see what I can find out from my WV buds.

  10. 2 congressmen. Both D’s. 1 congresswoman. She is an R.

    There are going to be hearings called on by the D’s.

    Here is the info from the one of the congressman’s website:,10&itemid=1502

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