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Previous mine accidents were minor

(CNN) -- Until Wednesday, accidents involving mine workers of the Black Wolf Coal Company were minor and rare, according to government records.

Not until Wednesday night when miners accidentally drilled into an older mine shaft filled with water, causing a wall to collapse and flood their area, had incidents been life-threatening.

Black Wolf took over the Quecreek mine in southwest Pennsylvania in August 1998 and began operations in March 2001. The mine there produces bituminous, or soft coal.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection reports that the company has 32 underground employees and five surface workers. An unidentified male answering the company phone declined to provide additional information about the corporation and its operations.

The state of Pennsylvania lists the following names as company officers: David F. Rebuck, CEO; Charles Hankinson, vice president; and Joseph A Gallo Jr., secretary and treasurer.

The company's last accident before Wednesday's occurred October 18, 2001, when a 30-foot-by-40-foot piece of a ceiling fell. There were no injuries in that incident, according to state records.

Records also show that other accidents included a miner breaking two fingers in May; an inflamed elbow from a slip on a ladder in February; and a groin pull involving lifting in December.




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