West Virginia Mine Rescue Ended: Four Missing Miners Found Dead
UPDATE: BBC News reports that the four miners missing since Monday have been found dead at the West Virginia mine. The total death toll now stands at 29. West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin reacted saying, "We did not get the miracle we prayed for."
Rescue Effort Resumed For The Second Time On Friday As Crews Work Against The Clock
Officials are saying rescuers will make the second rescue attempt of the day on Friday to try to retrieve the four missing miners who are believed to be trapped underground since the explosion that rocked through the Upper Big Branch Mine near Montcoal, West Virginia, on Monday. Twenty five miners have been killed in the incident, and the hope is fading for the four miners who are still missing. Rescue teams have been trying to reach the trapped miners since Tuesday, but their efforts have been thwarted by unsafe working conditions. Bore holes had to be drilled during the week to let the dangerous build-up of methane and carbon dioxide gases dissipate.
- West Virginia Mine Day 4: Rescuers Turn Back Over Air Quality
- West Virginia Mine Explosion: Names of the Dead List (Ongoing)
This morning, 16 rescuers had to turn back one more time after seeing smoke inside the mine. Rescue teams did manage to get as far as the first refuge chamber and discovered that the chamber was not utilized. The crews had to be evacuated before they got to the second chamber, which is where the missing miners could have gone after the explosion. The miners are instructed to use refuge chambers containing oxygen, food and water supplies in emergency situations.
Mining officials are confident that the only way for the miners to have survived is if they got to the second chamber. Crews were trying to lower video cameras into the mine to search for any signs of life, but the holes drilled did not allow for good visibility.
President Obama expressed his condolences to the families of the killed miners today. "For the four that remain missing, we are praying for a miracle," said Obama.
Meanwhile, funerals began today for some of the 25 miners killed. It is reported that about 300 mourners have gathered for the funeral of 62-year-old miner Benny Willingham who planned to retire in five weeks.