Rescue teams were forced to evacuate the West Virginia coal mine again Friday morning when they encountered smoke, indicating signs of a fire.
The 32 rescuers did reach a safe chamber where they had hoped the four missing miners may have taken shelter after Monday’s deadly explosion. However, they discovered so signs of the chamber having been used. “You would know very, very clearly if it had been deployed,” said Rory Paton-Ash, a spokesperson with the manufacturer, Strata Safety.
Rescuers attempted to reach the second chamber, but were told to evacuate immediately before they could determine whether that chamber had been deployed. The setback was the third time teams have been forced to abandon the search, after working their way five miles into the mine. Yesterday they were evacuated due to high levels of toxic gases, posing the possibility of a second explosion.
“It’s very emotional for all of the rescuers,” Kevin Stricklin said, a spokesperson for the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration. He said this is still considered a rescue operation, not a recovery effort.
On the surface, crews are continuing to ventilate the mine by pumping nitrogen inside to equalize the high levels of methane and carbon monoxide gases. “We had a long night and we had a difficult night,” Governor Joe Manchin told reporters this morning.
Officials said another hole is being drilled over the second safety chamber, and a camera will be lowered to view whether that chamber has been deployed.
Family and community members have been supportive of the rescue efforts and have been understanding of the setbacks. Pamela Lynch spoke with reporters. “We know it takes time. We know they have to wait until the threat level goes down,” she said. “If not, we’ll have more casualties. And that’s the last thing this community needs.” Her husband, Melvin survived the explosion, unscathed.
The deadly blast occurred Monday afternoon around 3 p.m., at Massey Energy’s Upper Big Branch mine in Raleigh County, approximately 30 miles south of Charleston. Twenty-five miners were killed, two survivors were hospitalized, and four workers are still missing.
Seven bodies have been removed from the mine and were identified on Tuesday. Eighteen bodies were found inside the mine; however, rescue crews didn’t remove them, focusing on the search for survivors instead.
Massey Energy officials announced this morning, that the company will be paying for the funerals of the miners who were killed.
In the video below, Governor Joe Manchin updates reporters.
Massey’s explosion is the worst U.S. mining disaster in 25 years. In Orangeville, Utah, 27 workers were killed in a tragic incident at Emery Mining Corporation. The Crandall Canyon mine collapsed on August 6, 2007, trapping six Utah miners. A second collapse on August 16, halted rescue efforts when three rescue workers were killed and another six were injured.
Source: Fox News and CNN news
Rescue teams unable to re-enter West Virginia mine; toxic gases rise to explosive levels
Rescue teams abandon search for 4 West Virginia miners
Rescuers to enter West Virginia coal mine soon; air appears safe
30 rescuers ready to search for 4 men in West Virginia mine; victims identified
No signs of life from 4 trapped West Virginia miners
Rescuers race to save 4 workers trapped in West Virginia coal mine
25 dead and 4 missing in West Virginia coal mine explosion