West Virginia Mine Explosion: Bodies Of 29 Miners Recovered
The Recovery Effort At Upper Big Branch Mine Ended As All Bodies Removed
The bodies of all 29 miners killed in the West Virginia mine explosion, including the four missing miners who were found dead on Friday, have now been recovered from the mine. The recovery process concluded early Tuesday morning, according to a statement released by Massey Energy Co. It is reported that the recovered bodies have been sent to the state medical examiner for autopsies. A full list with the names of the miners killed has not been released yet.
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The rescue operation that was launched since Monday's explosion to save the four missing miners who were believed to be alive for days after the explosion has been hampered many times due to the build-up of dangerous gases and the presence of smoke inside the mine. The recovery effort to remove the bodies has been similarly impeded by high levels of volatile gases. The recovery crews entered the mine again on Monday once the mine has been ventilated.
Seven bodies have been removed early last week, while 18 others remained in the mine while the rescue operation was ongoing for the four missing miners. Another 13 bodies were removed Sunday, according to CNN.
"I want to thank the rescue teams from Massey Energy, teams from other coal companies and all others who worked tirelessly and selflessly for more than a week to recover the miners at the Upper Big Branch mine," said Chairman and CEO Don Blankenship.
The final death toll makes the explosion the worst mining disaster since 1972 when 91 miners died in Idaho.
The next step for the state officials spearheaded by West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin is to enter the mine and try to determine the cause of the accident. In the days following the explosion, there have been multiple allegations of safety violations at the Upper Big Branch Mine, including concerns from some of the miners who died. In a statement, Massey Energy Co. says it continues to work diligently with state and federal authorities to try to determine the cause of the explosion as quickly as possible.
Flags will be flown at half-mast until Sunday in the state of Virginia as the community mourns the killed miners. A moment of silence was observed at 3:30 PM on Monday on Capitol Hill.