Rescuers searchfor trapped WV miners

As rescuers delved into the earth in search of 13 trapped West Virginia miners Monday night, families were finding comfort at a local church in their close-knit community.

BY DISASTER NEWS NETWORK | BALTIMORE | January 2, 2006


As rescuers delved into the earth in search of 13 trapped West Virginia miners Monday night, families were finding comfort at a local church in their close-knit community.

Rescue teams had to wait more than 11 hours for dangerous gases to clear before entering the mine.

The 13 coal miners were trapped earlier in the day following an explosion in a West Virginia coal mine. Their condition was unknown.

While rescuers attempted to reach those trapped, local religious leaders said their congregations were praying for the miners and their families.

The mine accident occurred as workers were beginning the first shift following a holiday weekend at a mine complex in the small village of Sago, located in Upshur County about eight miles from Buckhannon in north central West Virgina.

According to Upshur County emergency management officials, a blast occurred in the mine about 6:30 a.m. Monday. The 13 miners could be as far as three miles from the mine's entrance although it was unclear Monday night how far from the surface the mine works are actually located. Workers reportedly walk and ride into the mine rather than using elevators to descend as is the case in some deep mines.

One crew of six miners was able to escape after the explosion. Officials suggested the blast may have been caused by lightning when a line of thunderstorms moved through the state early Monday.

The names of the miners have not been released. The American Red Cross has set up a shelter at Sago Baptist Church for families and co-workers. By Monday night some 200 people were gathered. The church is located across the road from the mine.

Father James McCafferty, the pastor of Holy Rosary Catholic Church in Buckhannon said his congregation is praying for the miners and their families. "We activated our prayer chain," he said. The Holy Rosary parish includes all of Upshur County.

The accident is the worst in West Virginia since February 2003. The mine is owned by Anker West Virginia Mining Company, which was recently purchased by International Coal Group.


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