- Registration time
- Last login
- Online time
- 1160 Hour
- Reading permission
USA has mning accidents regularly just like China. But mine safety was a much larger issue for Americans in the 1960s, when there were several large accidents and a few strikes by the United Mine Workers (UMW). Management and labor in the American mining industry have always been bad, and mining has always been a dangerous occupation. Someone once told me that they could pay a man (or woman) a few schillings to do work that no mule would ever perform. Mules were more stupid than humans generally, but could not be made to work in coal mines under any circumstances due to their perisitent fear of working under ground.|
Due to the high levels of posionous gases and the location of the explosion and cave-in, I doubt there will be any survivors.
Crew Rushes to Get to Trapped W.Va. Miners
By VICKI SMITH, Associated Press Writer
After waiting almost 12 agonizing hours for dangerous gases to clear, rescuers Monday entered a coal mine where 13 miners were trapped underground after an explosion that may have been sparked by lightning.
The condition of the miners was not immediately known. Four co-workers tried to reach them but were stopped by a wall of debris, and the blast knocked out the mine's communication equipment, preventing authorities from contacting the miners.
It was not known how much air they had or how big a space they were in. The miners had air-purifying equipment but no oxygen tanks, a co-worker said.
The first of eight search-and-rescue teams entered the Sago Mine, more than 11 hours after the blast trapped the miners. Rescue crews were kept out of the mine for most of the day while dangerously high levels of carbon monoxide — a byproduct of combustion — were vented through holes drilled into the ground, authorities said.
Company officials believe the trapped miners were about two miles inside the mine, about 260 feet under the ground. The crew entered the mine on foot for fear of sparking another explosion.
"You just have to hope that the explosions weren't of the magnitude that was horrific from the beginning," Gov. Joe Manchin said on CNN. He added: "There are places they can retreat in all these mines, they have catacombs."
The federal Mine Safety and Health Administration sent a rescue robot to the mine, situated about 100 miles northeast of Charleston.
Some 200 co-workers and relatives of those trapped gathered at the Sago Baptist Church, across the road from the mine.
Anna McCoy said her husband, Randall, 27, was among those missing. She said he had worked at the mine for three years "but was looking to get out. It was too dangerous."
Coal mine explosions are typically caused by buildups of naturally occurring methane gas, and the danger increases in the winter months, when the barometric pressure can release the odorless, colorless and highly flammable gas.
Manchin spokeswoman Lara Ramsburg said the blast may have been sparked by lightning from severe thunderstorms.
But Roger Nicholson, general counsel for the mine's owner, International Coal Group, said that it was not clear what caused the blast and that there was no indication it was methane-related.
The mine has a single entrance, and the shaft winds its way for miles underground. The miners were supposed to be working about 160 feet below the surface, said the wife of one of the trapped men. But it was unclear how far into the shaft they had gone when the blast struck.
Gene Kitts, a senior vice president at ICG, said the company was preparing to drill into the mine to reach the miners.
"If the miners are barricaded, as we hope they are, they would prepare themselves for rescue by rationing," Kitts said. The miners would probably have only their lunches and water on hand.
"These miners are experienced, they are well-trained," Kitts said. "We are just praying they had an opportunity to put their training to use."
The miners had three to 30 years of experience working in the mining industry, Kitts said. The company declined to release their names.
The blast happened between 6 a.m. and 6:30 a.m. as the first shift of miners entered to resume production following the holiday, Ramsburg said.
"As they were heading in, the car in the back either heard or felt some type of explosion. They headed back out. The first car never made it back out," she said.
Thirteen miners were trapped, the coal company said. Four co-workers tried to reach the missing miners but "came to a wall" of debris, said Steve Milligan, deputy director of Upshur County's Office of Emergency Management.
Samantha Lewis, whose 28-year-old husband, David, was among those trapped, said he worked the mines so that he could be home every night to take care of their three daughters while she worked on a master's degree in health care administration.
"This was a good way to make a living until we could find something else," said Lewis, whose father, grandfather and stepfather also worked in the mines. "It's just a way of life. Unless you're a coal miner or you have a college degree, you don't make any money."
Anna McCoy said her husband, Randall, 27, was also among those missing. She said he had worked at the mine for three years "but was looking to get out. It was too dangerous."
Miners who work in the mine carry individual air purifying systems that would give them up to seven hours of clean air, said Tim McGee, who works at the mine and was among those at the church. They do not carry oxygen tanks, he said.
McGee said the miners would have been heading to a production area that is about three miles from the mine's opening.
"There's always that hope and chance that they were able to go to part of the mine that still had safe air, and they have all the equipment in order to test that," the governor of the nation's No. 2 coal-producing state told CNN.
ICG acquired the Sago Mine (pronounced SAY-goh) last March when it bought Anker West Virginia Mining Co., which had been in bankruptcy. In 2004, the latest year for which figures are available, the Sago Mine produced about 397,000 tons of coal.
Federal inspectors cited the mine for 46 alleged violations of federal mine health and safety rules during an 11-week review that ended Dec. 22, according to records.
The more serious alleged violations, resulting in proposed penalties of at least $250 each, involved steps for safeguarding against roof falls, and the mine's plan to control methane and breathable dust. The mine received 185 citations from MSHA during 2005, up from 68 citations in 2004.
West Virginia ended 2005 with three mining deaths, the lowest since 2000.
In February 2003, three contract workers were killed by a methane explosion while drilling an air shaft at a Consol Energy coal mine near Cameron.
In September 2001, 13 coal miners were killed in a series of explosions at a mine in Broached, Ala. That was the nation's worst mining accident since 1984, when fire killed 27 coal miners near Orangeville, Utah.
In July 2002, nine coal miners were rescued after being trapped for 77 hours in a mine near Somerset, Pa.
The deadliest coal mining disaster in U.S. history was an explosion in 1907 in Monongah that killed 362 people.