The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Montcoal Mine Disaster

April 5, 2011

Tragedy in the Coalfields

Remembering the Upper Big Branch mine disaster one year later


Day 4 - Thursday, April 8, 2010

5 a.m.: Rescuers re-enter the mine after monitoring air quality all night.

9 a.m.: Rescuers travel by mantrip and on foot to a point about 5 miles into the mine when they are forced to stop and exit because of dangerous gases. They are able to leave behind equipment, which will allow them to move more quickly once they can get back into the mine.

- Crews resume drilling boreholes for ventilation into the mine.

- The injured miner at Raleigh General Hospital is released, but his family asks for privacy.

Day 5 - Friday, April 9, 2010

12:30 a.m.:  Two rescue teams enter the mine after air conditions are deemed safe enough.

7 a.m.: They are again forced to retreat early after smoke was found, indicating a fire somewhere in the mine.

- Rescuers reach one of two underground emergency shelters, finding it had not been deployed. They are forced to abandon the search, however, before checking the second rescue chamber.

- Stricklin says crews have begun pumping nitrogen into the mine in hopes of neutralizing potentially explosive gases and allowing rescuers to go back in.

2:30 p.m.: Two eight-member rescue teams go back underground; Stricklin says it will take crews three-and-a-half to four hours to reach the second emergency chamber.

- Funerals for four of the victims whose bodies were recovered earlier are held.

Day 6 - Saturday, April 10, 2010

- Manchin announces early Saturday morning that the four missing miners had been found dead. “We did not receive the miracle that we prayed for,” the governor said. “So this journey has ended, and now the healing will start.”

- The mission turns from rescue to recovery as crews begin carrying the remaining bodies from the mine.

- With the death toll now at 29, the explosion at Performance Coal Company’s Upper Big Branch mine officially becomes the worst mining disaster in the U.S. since 1970, when 38 miners died in an explosion in Hyden, Ky.

- Two more funerals are held.

- Hundreds of people gather near Marsh Fork Elementary School to honor the lost miners.

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Montcoal Mine Disaster
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    May 19, 2011 3 Photos

  • Families not surprised Massey was irresponsible

    For the father of one of the victims of the tragedy at Upper Big Branch, hearing investigators say the accident was preventable and largely due to ignoring important safety measures came as no surprise.

    May 19, 2011

  • UBB report provides insight into future of mine safety

    Following an independent investigation into the Upper Big Branch explosion, investigators offered more than 50 suggestions for improving the safety of coal miners underground, and lawmakers across the state and nation have taken notice.

    May 19, 2011

  • MSHA investigation not complete, but mostly in line with independent panel's report

    The public received a few answers to questions about the Upper Big Branch mine explosion Thursday from an independent team, but federal investigators are still completing their investigation.

    May 19, 2011

  • 11 panel findings and suggestions for safety improvements

    As part of the independent investigation of the April 5, 2010, explosion at Upper Big Branch by the Governor’s Independent Investigation Panel, the authors of the report offered the following 11 findings that were accompanied by multiple suggestions for safety improvement.

    May 19, 2011

  • Council may choose outside 4 Beckley mayoral hopefuls

    With the tenure of long-time Beckley Mayor Emmett Pugh ending on Dec. 31, members of the city’s Common Council plan to select an interim mayor at a special Jan. 2 meeting.

    December 13, 2013

  • W.Va. moves to unlicense Upper Big Branch foreman

    West Virginia mine safety officials are moving to revoke the license of an Upper Big Branch mine foreman they say didn’t turn on his methane detector when he was supposed to be checking for the explosive gas.
    The Charleston Gazette says a hearing for Jeremy Burghduff is set for May 15 before the state Coal Mine Safety Board of Appeals.

    April 12, 2012

  • UPDATED: Report also criticizes regulators in UBB mine blast

    The independent investigation that blames the deadliest U.S. coal mine explosion in decades on owner Massey Energy Co. also points out problems with how federal and state regulators policed the West Virginia coal mine where 29 died last year.

    May 19, 2011

  • UBB Scene UPDATED: Families seek justice for fatal UBB mine blast

    Relatives of the 29 men killed in the deadliest U.S. coal accident since 1970 said Thursday the findings of an independent probe confirm what they long suspected, saying Massey Energy Co. cared more about coal than workers’ safety, threatened to fire those who complained and let dangerous conditions build in an ill-fated mine.

    May 19, 2011 3 Photos

  • remember Remembering the 29

    A year after the tragic loss of 29 West Virginia coal miners at a Raleigh County mine, public officials gathered Tuesday evening with victims’ families, rescue workers and others affected by the tragedy.

    April 6, 2011 1 Photo

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