April 5th, 2012
01:40 AM ET

Upper Big Branch mine to be permanently sealed

The Upper Big Branch coal mine, where 29 people were killed in a blast two years ago Thursday, will be permanently sealed by the summer.

Crews will seal with concrete the portals that allow entry to the mine, plug boreholes and cap mine fan shafts, said the mine's new owners Alpha Natural Resources.

"Though two years have passed, everyone still has vivid memories of the tragedy and the suffering the miners' families endured," said company Chief Executive Officer Kevin Crutchfield. "For all of us in the mining industry, it is a solemn reminder of why we must always put safety first in everything we do at work and at home."

The explosion at the West Virginia mine on April 5, 2010, was the deadliest U.S. mine disaster since 1972, when 91 men died in a fire at the Sunshine Mine in Kellogg, Idaho.

In a December report,the Mine Safety and Health Administration found a methane ignition that set off flammable coal dust was the immediate cause of the 2010 explosion.

But it also blamed the "unlawful policies and practices" of then-mine owner Massey Energy Co., which it said "promoted and enforced a workplace culture that valued production over safety."

Alpha Natural Resources bought Massey in 2011 and has agreed to a $209 million settlement to avoid prosecution. The deal includes payments of $1.5 million to each family that lost a member in the blast.

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Filed under: Mine accidents • U.S.
Gotta Watch: They were rescued, we watched
The Fenix 2 capsule is brought to the surface with the last trapped Chilean miner Luis Urzua from the San Jose mine, near Copiapo, Chile.
October 13th, 2011
11:40 AM ET

Gotta Watch: They were rescued, we watched

Today marks the one-year anniversary of a rescue that captivated the world's attention. On October 13, 2010, the world watched as 33 miners were brought to the surface in Chile after spending 69 days trapped more than 2,000 feet below ground.  In honor of this momentous and incredible rescue, we at Gotta Watch put together videos from other big news making rescues that we couldn't help but watch every step of the way.

Miners finally see daylight - They spent 69 days in the bowels of the earth, trapped deep below the surface.  For 17 days, nobody knew that the 33 men were alive after the San Jose Mine caved in.  The miraculous rescue of these miners made headlines around the world.  People around the globe celebrated as each and every miner was brought to safety and waited anxiously in hopes that the next miner would make it up alive. Here's your chance to relive the powerful moments from that rescue, starting from the first miner all the way to the last.


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Filed under: Chile miners trapped • Colorado • Gotta Watch • Hoax • Mine accidents • Mining • U.S.
October 4th, 2011
08:55 AM ET

State media: China mine accident kills 13

Thirteen miners were killed and five are still missing after a "gas outburst" Tuesday at a coal mine in China's southwestern Guizhou province, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

Rescuers were continuing the search late Tuesday for the five missing miners at the Anping coal mine, the agency said. The bodies of 10 workers have been recovered.

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Filed under: China • Coal mining • Mine accidents • Mining
Rescuers in China hear 'knocking' as they scramble to save 22 coal miners
Rescuers prepare to enter a flooded coal pit last week to rescue trapped workers in China's Hengtai coal mine.
August 29th, 2011
11:49 AM ET

Rescuers in China hear 'knocking' as they scramble to save 22 coal miners

Rescuers struggling to save 22 miners trapped underground in northeast China's Heilongjiang Province reported hearing "knocking sounds" within the mine early Monday, according to state-run media.

The report from the Hengtai coal mine, which has been flooded for a week, came about 2 a.m. after rescuers knocked on the sides of a 900-foot-deep hole that was drilled Sunday to make contact with the miners. The knocking is believed to be a response from the miners, Xinhua reported.

Relief supplies including food, a lamp, pen and paper were lowered down the hole, and something shook the rope to which the package was tied, but when rescuers brought the package back to the surface, it remained unopened, Xinhua said.

Forty-five miners were working Tuesday when the flooding occurred. Nineteen miners escaped, Xinhua reported, and rescue workers are attempting to pump water out of the mine.


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Filed under: China • Coal mining • Mine accidents • Mining • World
Rescue efforts underway after explosion in Mexican mine traps 14
May 3rd, 2011
09:25 PM ET

Rescue efforts underway after explosion in Mexican mine traps 14

[Updated at 9:25 p.m.] Rescue efforts were starting Tuesday night at a mine in northern Mexico where 14 workers were trapped in a mine shaft after an explosion, state media reported.

A local civil protection official said toxic gases had dissipated enough to allow rescuers to begin exploring the mine's tunnels, the state-run Notimex news agency said.

The mine is located just outside Sabinas, Mexico, in the heart of Mexico's coal mining region.

[Updated at 2:11 p.m.] An explosion left 14 miners trapped inside a mine shaft just outside of Sabinas, Mexico, in the heart of Mexico's coal mining region, Mayor Jesus Montemayor Garza told CNN Tuesday.

The blast - at a mine run by the company BIMSA - happened Tuesday morning, the mayor said.

"It's very painful for us," Montemayor said. "At this time we don't know if the 14 miners trapped are dead or alive. It's going to be a complicated operation because of the way the mine shaft was built."

The mine shaft is 60 meters (197 feet) deep, he said.

"We're all hoping the miners are still alive," he added.

Sixteen rescuers from the Coahuila state civil protection agency were working at the site, and 20 other rescuers were in the area ready to relieve the first group, the mayor said.

Methane gas in the shaft was complicating and delaying rescue attempts, he said.

CNN's Rafael Romo contributed to this report.

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Filed under: Mexico • Mine accidents • Mining
Official: Man trapped after roof of Idaho mine collapses 75 feet
The roof of the Lucky Friday mine, owned by Hecla Mining Company, collapsed Friday.
April 16th, 2011
05:40 PM ET

Official: Man trapped after roof of Idaho mine collapses 75 feet

The roof of a northeast Idaho mine collapsed Friday, trapping a man inside and setting off a complex rescue operation to save him, the mine's owner and operator said Saturday.

The miner was one of two men working in part of the Lucky Friday mine when a 10-foot by 20-foot section of earth fell about 75 feet on him around 5:30 p.m. Friday, according to Phil Baker, the president and CEO of the Hecla Mining Company.

While the other man was able to get out unharmed, the trapped miner hasn't been heard from since.

"We're doing everything we can to reach the employee and will continue to make every effort, as long as it takes," said Baker, whose company has owned and operated the mine outside Mullan since 1958. "We are going to bring him out - that is what we're working toward right now."

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Filed under: Mine accidents
Tuesday's live video events
April 5th, 2011
07:35 AM ET

Tuesday's live video events

There's a bit of a budget battle in Washington as President Obama and Congress look to prevent some kind of a government shutdown.  Watch CNN.com Live for continuing coverage of the budget crisis.

Today's programming highlights...

10:00 am ET - 9/11 military trials hearing - Attorney General Eric Holder announced Monday that the suspects in the 9/11 attacks on the United States would be tried in military tribunals and not civilian courts.  A House judiciary subcommittee will discuss the matter and more.


Filed under: 2011 tsunami • Budget • Coal mining • District of Columbia • Earthquake • Economy • Japan • Justice • Libya • Mine accidents • Mining • Natural Disasters • On CNN.com today • Politics • September 11 • Terrorism • Tsunami • U.S. • War • West Virginia • World
March 4th, 2011
08:07 PM ET

Rescuers call off Nevada mine rescue because of 'dangerous conditions'

A 28-year-old man who fell into an abandoned mine in Nevada may have to stay there until conditions at the mine allow for his rescue, officials said.

The man fell Wednesday at the Murphy Mine Complex, which dates back to 1895 and is located about 60 miles south of Winnemucca in Pershing County, said spokeswoman JoLynn Worley of the state Bureau of Land Management.

Rescuers went down the shaft but could not find him. They did, however, find him upon sending a camera down the shaft, and at 8 p.m. PT Thursday, he was alive and moving his hands.

“It appears that due to the hazardous and dangerous conditions of that shaft, the rescue efforts were stopped,” Worley said.

As of 3 a.m. Friday, the camera was still recording him. He was breathing, but there was no movement, she said.

A U.S. Navy Search and Rescue team is assisting regional authorities and the Newmont Mining Corp. in the rescue.

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Filed under: Mine accidents • Nevada • U.S.
Obama portrays small business owner as man who did 'big things'
Brandon Fisher's small business manufactured equipment used to find and rescue 33 trapped miners in Chile last year.
January 25th, 2011
11:45 PM ET

Obama portrays small business owner as man who did 'big things'

Brandon Fisher has tried to avoid the publicity that comes with playing a key role in two of the last decade's biggest mine rescues.

But when the President of the United States wants to mention you in his State of the Union speech, and the first lady invites you to sit with her, there's really no way to decline.

And so, Fisher donned a suit and tie and showed up with his wife, Julie, as guests in Michelle Obama's box during President Barack Obama's second State of the Union address to the nation.

In the eyes of the President, the small business owner from Berlin, Pennsylvania, was not just an honored guest of the evening. He was a symbol of the American dream - alongside Vice President Joe Biden, "a working class kid from Scranton" and Speaker of the House John Boehner, "who began by sweeping the floors of his father's Cincinnati bar" - someone of modest means who would go on to "do big things," Obama said.


November 23rd, 2010
11:04 PM ET

Miners trapped underground in New Zealand dead, police say

All 29 miners trapped underground in a New Zealand mine are dead, Gary
Knowles, superintendent from Tasman Police Command said Wednesday.

Air released from the drilling contained high levels of carbon monoxide and methane but little oxygen, police officials have said.

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Filed under: Australia • Mine accidents
November 22nd, 2010
04:51 PM ET

Setback reported in search for New Zealand miners

A robot dispatched to peer into the New Zealand coal mine where 29 miners are trapped has broken down inside the mine, and families of the men are "extremely frustrated," police said Tuesday morning.

The military-operated robot was expected to be a key part of the search for any survivors. But Gary Knowles, superintendent of the Tasman Police District, told reporters Tuesday morning that the robot's operators told him the probe had stopped operating.

No one has heard from the men - ages 17 to 62 - since an explosion inside the mine around 4 p.m. Friday.


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Filed under: Mine accidents • New Zealand
November 22nd, 2010
12:31 PM ET

Trapped New Zealand miner, 17, was on job for one hour

Joseph Dunbar had celebrated his 17th birthday, local media reported.

One of the 29 people trapped in a New Zealand coal mine is a teenage boy who’d only been on the job for an hour when an explosion rocked the mine.

Joseph Dunbar had celebrated his 17th birthday last Thursday, according to news reports from New Zealand.

His mother, Philippa Timms, told the New Zealand Herald that she and her son had recently moved to the area on New Zealand’s southern island to get a fresh start in life.

"We moved here for Joseph, to give him a different life, a better life," the Herald quoted her as saying. Her son’s top goal soon became getting a job at the mine, she said.

"It was a turning point in his life, he was going a little bit wayward... He got offered this chance to have a career, and that's how he saw it," a story on the TVNZ website quotes her as saying.

The teen was supposed to start his new job on Monday, but he went into the mine for a get-acquainted tour on Friday and then asked to hang around for the rest of the shift, according to news reports.

"He wanted to stay there and see how everything operated. He just wanted to be part of it," Gary Campbell, Philippa Timms partner, told TVNZ.

An explosion rocked the Pike River mine around 4 p.m. on Friday. No one has heard from the miners since. Toxic gas was lingering and hampering rescue efforts. Rescuers were hoping to get a robot into the mine soon.


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Filed under: Mine accidents • New Zealand
November 21st, 2010
09:24 PM ET

Dangerous conditions delay New Zealand coal mine rescue

A toxic mix of gasses inside a New Zealand coal mine kept frustrated rescue workers on the sidelines again Monday, as they waited for the go-ahead to try to reach 29 miners trapped underground.

No one has heard from the men - ages 17 to 62 - since an explosion inside the mine around 4 p.m. Friday afternoon. Officials hope they are alive, though they do not know if the men found a safe haven or whether parts or all of the mine collapsed.


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Filed under: Coal mining • Mine accidents • New Zealand
November 19th, 2010
12:44 PM ET

Miners missing after New Zealand explosion

At least 27 miners remained missing after an underground explosion on New Zealand's west coast, company officials said Friday.

Two miners emerged from the the Pike River coal mine in Atarau, located about 90 miles northwest of Christchurch, with moderate injuries, authorities said.

No fatalities have yet been reported, but concerns over ventilation at the mine has delayed a rescue effort. A power outage might have compromised ventilation inside the mine.

"They're itching to get in there and start looking for other people and a bit frustrated at having to stand and wait," police spokeswoman Barbara Dunn said.


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Filed under: Mine accidents • New Zealand
November 18th, 2010
09:50 AM ET

On the Radar: Miners in U.S., Rangel punished

[cnn-video url="http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/living/2010/11/18/heroes.tuchman.miners.atlanta.cnn"%5D

Miners in America - The men who survived 69 days in a Chilean mine are in Atlanta, Georgia, on their first U.S. tour since being rescued last month. The miners are on their way to Los Angeles, California, to tape "CNN Heroes: An All Star Tribute," which will air on Thanksgiving.

"I want to see the world," said 27-year-old miner Richard Villarroell, who has only been to Argentina. "I know all of Chile, but not the rest of the world."

CNN Heroes brings attention to regular people around the globe who are doing significant things that improve lives. The Chileans were invited because they symbolize the resiliency and endurance of the human spirit.

Rangel punished, Murkowski claims win - Politics is making news Thursday from New York to Alaska. New York Rep. Charles Rangel will be punished by his colleagues for violating House rules. The House ethics committee meets today and could recommend anything from a fine to expulsion. In Alaska, Sen. Lisa Murkowski has finally declared victory over fellow-Republican Joe Miller. The votes are still being counted. Murkowski would be the first write-in candidate to win a Senate race since Strom Thurmond in 1954.

Mystery bone - Investigators hope to determine Thursday whether a jawbone found on an Aruba beach belongs to an animal or a human. It's possible that the bone is from the body of Natalee Holloway, the missing American teenager. If the bone is human, authorities will attempt to find out using a DNA match whether it belongs to Holloway, who was last seen on the island in 2005. The Netherlands Forensic Institute in The Hague is examining the bone. Joran van der Sloot, the suspect in the Holloway case, is being held in Castro-Castro prison in Peru on another murder charge. Holloway's mother met with him recently.

October 26th, 2010
03:41 PM ET

'Blast boxers' aim to curb 'life-changing' wounds

Blast boxers cost $86 and protect important soldier parts, their maker says.

Military officials in a number of European countries are testing “blast boxers,” armored underwear that protect the groin from shrapnel, according to the garments' manufacturer.

BCB International, a Cardiff, Wales-based manufacturer of military and survival products, says the shorts could help reduce “life-changing” injuries to the genitalia and colon - the type caused by roadside bombs in Afghanistan.

The “blast boxers” can stop a projectile moving at 230 meters per second (about the speed of a small handgun bullet), according to the company’s website. Besides protecting the genitals, the shorts also are designed to protect the femoral artery, which, if punctured, can cause rapid blood loss and a quick death.


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Filed under: Military • Mine accidents • Wales • War
October 20th, 2010
09:35 PM ET

2 remaining miners in Ecuador found dead

The two remaining miners trapped underground in Ecuador since part of a
mine collapsed last week have been found dead, the president of the mine said

Angel Vera and Pedro Mendos  had been trapped since last Friday, mine president Juan Cando Pacheco said.


Filed under: Ecuador • Mine accidents
October 18th, 2010
07:38 PM ET

Queen Elizabeth II gets a piece of Chile's national pride

President Sebastian Piñera gives Queen Elizabeth II a rock from the San Jose mine.

Judging purely by appearances, the gift from Chile's president to Elizabeth II did not seem fit for a queen.

He gave the monarch a rock. But it was not just any rock. The stone that President Sebastian Piñera brought all the way from Chile to Buckingham Palace was from the bottom of the San Jose mine, once the underground prison of 33 miners and now a symbol of Chilean national pride.


October 17th, 2010
09:24 PM ET

Freed Chilean miners return to 'Camp Hope' for Mass

About a dozen or so of the 33 miners freed in Chile this week after spending more than two months underground returned Sunday to the mouth of the mine to offer thanks during a private Mass.

For many of the miners, it was the first time back since their dramatic Wednesday rescue that was watched by the world.

Just the miners, their families and a handful of local officials were invited to attend the service.


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Filed under: Chile • Chile miners trapped • Mine accidents • Religion
October 16th, 2010
11:46 AM ET

Blast kills 21 in China mine

A gas explosion Saturday killed at least 21 workers and 16 others were trapped at a coal mine in central China, authorities told state-run media.

Rescuers have retrieved 20 bodies so far, the official Xinhua news agency reported. The 16 trapped miners have been located but rescuers have to clear coal dust from the shaft in order to reach them.


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