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West Virginia governor unveils new mine rescue truck

By the CNN Wire Staff
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • West Virginia's governor unveils a new mine rescue vehicle
  • The truck will be used to perform site evaluations and reveal problems
  • The truck is part of the response to the April 2010 explosion at the Upper Big Branch Mine

(CNN) -- The governor of West Virginia unveiled a new, specially equipped truck Tuesday designed to help rescue trapper miners -- part of that state's response to last year's Upper Big Branch Mine explosion, which resulted in 29 deaths.

"I am still saddened by the loss," said acting Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin. "The families of the (Upper Big Branch) tragedy have said, 'Don't let this happen again.'"

The truck is "fully equipped to provide mine rescue teams with the tools needed to greatly improve a mine rescue operation if and when called upon in the future," Tomblin said.

The vehicle -- formally known as the Command Unit Rapid Response Task Force 1 and Mine Rescue Truck -- includes GPS satellite technology for mine mapping and gas well detection, according to a statement from Tomblin's office.

It comes with a high-tech lab allowing for more rapid analysis of mine conditions, and a mobile office with engineering equipment.

The vehicle also has a high-speed military-grade satellite communications link.

Among other things, the truck will be used to perform mine site evaluations and evaluate potential problems before an accident occurs.

The April 2010 explosion at the Upper Big Branch Mine was the industry's worst disaster in 40 years. The mine -- owned by Massey Energy -- had a spotty safety record before the explosion, with three deaths reported in the previous 12 years.

Tomblin became acting governor in November, when Gov. Joe Manchin resigned to fill the unexpired term of U.S. Sen. Robert Byrd.

CNN's Alan Silverleib contributed to this report