April 5th, 2010
08:40 PM ET

Death toll rises to 7 in West Virginia mine explosion

For more updates on the West Virginia mine story, read the full CNN.com story.

[Updated at 8:39 p.m.] Don Blankenship, the chief executive officer of Massey Energy Co., which oversees the mine, said in a statement that the company is "working diligently on rescue efforts."

"Our prayers go out to the families of the miners," he said. "We want to assure the families of all the miners we are taking every action possible to locate and rescue those still missing."

[Updated at 8:20 p.m.] The death toll has risen to seven people. At least 19 people remain unaccounted for in the blast.

[Updated at 7:59 p.m.] A spokeswoman at Charleston Area Medical Center, which was being prepared to receive injured miners, told CNN that as many as 28 people are unaccounted for, citing emergency dispatchers coordinating response efforts at the mine.

CAMC spokeswoman Elizabeth Pellegrin said the hospital received one person from the mine via a helicopter at 6 p.m. That patient is getting treatment in the hospital's Intensive Care Unit, she said, declining to elaborate on the person's injuries.

[Updated at 7:13 p.m.] Three other deaths have occurred in the Upper Big Branch Mine in the past 12 years, according to federal records. In 1998, a man was killed when a beam he was constructing collapsed; in 2001, a worker died after a rock fell on him; and in 2003, an electrician who was repairing a shuttle car was found dead, according to the Mine Safety and Health Administration.

[Updated at 6:50 p.m.] At least six coal miners are dead, 21 are injured and another 21 are unaccounted for in the explosion, according to Boone County dispatcher Michael Mayhorn.

Raleigh County officials called his office and those of nearby Logan and Kanawha counties to assist in responding to a mine collapse, he said. At least 20 ambulances and three helicopters were dispatched, and the state medical examiner was en route, Mayhorn said.

[Updated at 6:41 p.m.] Jama Jarrett of West Virginia's Office of Miners' Health, Safety and Training talks to CNN's Wolf Blitzer.

[Updated at 6:37 p.m.] West Virginia's state mine director reported that six coal miners were dead and 21 were missing after the explosion in Raleigh County, according to CNN affiliate WCHS.

[Updated at 6:20 p.m.] More than 20 people are unaccounted for, according to Jimmy Gianato, West Virginia's director of homeland security.

The blast occurred in Raleigh County, at Massey Energy Company's Performance Coal Company Upper Big Branch Mine, the company said. Rescue teams and state and federal agencies were responding.

Massey Energy Company, based in Richmond, Virginia, has operations in West Virginia, Kentucky and Virginia. It is the largest coal producer in Central Appalachia, it said in a statement.

[Updated at 6:13 p.m.] CNN affiliate WCHS reports that dozens of miners are believed to be trapped.

[Posted at 6:06 p.m.] An explosion occurred Monday in a mine in Raleigh County, West Virginia, Massey Energy reported.

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  1. PJS

    I'm just wondering if the EARTH QUAKE that WV felt last week or so, and the lightening & thunder that rolled into the area, may have lended a helping hand to this explosion. Of course, it doesnt excuse shoddy inspection's & paper work if that occured here. Just a month or so ago, there was a man that admitted to fudging the paperwork of the inspections at another coal mine in Northern Wv.. Is anyone wondering what is really going on here? It should be safety first and foremost! NEVER should a business especially a coal mines be allowed to operate with that many OPEN citations! NEVER! May GOD BLESS all of the workers & families!

    April 6, 2010 at 9:44 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Nicole Stewart

    My thoughts and prayers go out to the family of all the miners and to all the rescue workers. God bless you for what you do.i hope those still trapped can make it out ok!

    April 6, 2010 at 9:55 pm | Report abuse |
  3. G.Saindon

    Sincere condolescences to all who are suffering through this accident our thoughts and prayers are with the families.I hope the trapped miners can make it out .

    April 7, 2010 at 9:45 am | Report abuse |
  4. Shawn ryan

    This was the worst thing that could happen to the families. My prayers go out to all of them. How in the world do they let a mine keep opperating with over 458 violations most of them were critical. We are all praying for the men still trapped on side god be with them and there families.

    April 7, 2010 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Zac

    I was watching this on the news earlier. The protests of the mine owner are pathetic. We all should pray for the miners trapped inside.

    April 7, 2010 at 4:59 pm | Report abuse |
  6. rRia Rogers

    I've been writing an environmental blog for my local news for years now and am well aware of Blankenship and Massey Energy. He's corrupt–period. It's all about money. There is no honor in it. Who brainwashed these miners into thinking this is a patriotic calling? Are these workers aware that 42% of all new power plants are powered by wind now? There has got to be wind in W. Virginia. Someone needs to bring different industry to W. Virginians that have no other means to make a living but mine coal for a company whose bottom line is money.

    I have a feeling the patriotic idea came from the "Friends of America" rally last year where mostly employees of big coal and big oil were stoked into thinking their jobs are for God and country." They've also been told by Blankenship that environmentalists are extremists and part of corporate America looking to take their jobs away. MASSEY is corporate America! The miners risk their lives, and to continue to use coal as a main source of power risks all life on earth.

    For those that think a minor earthquake miles away may have played a part in this–NO, that's been dispelled already.

    April 7, 2010 at 8:19 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Shannon

    I have to say I stand by my opinion of my strong dislike of Don Blankenship someone on facebook made terrible comments about mining and west virginia and ya know I have to say mining is dangerous but just like it is the responsibility of the miners to mine the coal IT IS THE RESPONSIBILTY of the CEO and management to ensure those mines are safe to be in. These miners are sometimes working 18 to 20 hour days...told to mine coal that is unmineable....end up with black lung...and a whole host of other problems...this mine should have shut down long before this happened...I sit her now waiting and hoping the last 4 make it even though I know the probability is far from good and I am hoping I don't know anyone on the list that will be coming out soon.....I pray for all these families my family and myself were once there the ones waiting and hoping.....May god comfort them and console them.

    April 7, 2010 at 11:24 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Shannon

    I agree we need something else as revenue...There is nothing patriotic about 25 dead men and counting....wind in this state has been shot down again and again and miners are afraid to speak out against Massey.....jobs are so scarce here with exception of coal.....I don't know when enough will be enough for this state for these families.....I love my state, I love the people here it would not hurt me to see Don Blankenship sail his rear end out of this state and never come back. People talk about unions and how they could have helped in this situation I think they very well could have but a word of warning that a union can be just as vendictive and backstabbing as Don Blankenship is. Since mining is not going anywhere...I say let the federal gov pass new strict laws..that when methane levels rise to 4.7 a mine must automatically be shut down till levels are safe...mines that have violations be shut down until they are fixed maybe if they are forced to take care of their mines maybe then we will see a safe future for mining.

    April 7, 2010 at 11:43 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Anna Patterson

    I know that no matter what, coal mining is dangerous. But we must learn by past mistakes and safety violations and try not to repeat them.

    April 9, 2010 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Magic Marker

    still, even with every safety precaution possible in place, accidents will still happen and people will still die, its the sacrifice we make for the 21st century lifestyle,

    April 9, 2010 at 9:20 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Anna Patterson

    In my opinion, with modern technology, we are still having antiquated ways in our coal mines. Something surely needs to be done. Risk is one thing, completely unplausible circumstances is another. I do feel the people who mine the coal are heroes risking their lives all the time.

    April 9, 2010 at 10:19 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Dreama Keyes Asbury

    there is no place on earth like my home state of w.va. i was born and raised on coal river my grand parents were miners my dad was i even worked in the mines for a short time i couldnt take the nott knowing when some thing would happen as one of the few women that work in the mines i admire all coal miners for there bravery and dedication to going deep beneath these beautiful mountains that has taken many miners from there families and loved ones,my heart goes out to all the families of the miners of the 2010 explosion on coal river montcoal w.va. my parents and my mothers parents are buried in orgas w.va.my dads parents are buried iin whitesville i have a nephew that lives in seng creek he works for massey energy at a different mine i pray for him every day for god to keep him safe.i also pray for all the miners who mine coal just remember..........BEHIND EVERY LIGHT SWITCH IS A COAL MINER!!!R.I.P.our loved coal miners

    April 11, 2010 at 7:54 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Anna Patterson

    You are not alone in thinking how important those miners and what they do are to the country. Everyday they are a part of American's lives and most don't know it. They don't even know it when a tragedy of this magnitude hits the nation.
    You can't ever totally clear up this loss and you can't ever make it okay.
    I am married to a man from W. Virginia. We live in Arkansas, but the coal miners and their families are a part of our lives as well and we grieve deeply for their personal loss and the loss of these dear people. This loss should touch the very heart of every American. Because these people are truly the salt of the earth.

    April 12, 2010 at 7:16 am | Report abuse |
  14. Anna Patterson

    I just watched President Obama's comments live on CNN concerning the mining accident in West Virginia. I know that nothing can stop the tears shed for these beloved miners who lost their lives doing what heroes do. Nonetheless, I believe President Obama lined out a respectful answer to this tragedy. The miners will not work on Friday in observance of the mourning of these miner's families. And all of the working conditions in the United States mines, not just the mine where the deaths occurred, will get a look and he pointed out conditions which need to be improved. It makes me proud to be an American.

    April 15, 2010 at 10:52 am | Report abuse |
  15. Max Wood

    light switches should be made from oxygen free copper so that they last longer*:*

    October 4, 2010 at 1:43 pm | Report abuse |
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