Skip to main content

29 killed in West Virginia mine to be remembered 1 year after blast

By the CNN Wire Staff
The Upper Big Branch Mine accident was the worst mining disaster in the United States since 1972.
The Upper Big Branch Mine accident was the worst mining disaster in the United States since 1972.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The Upper Big Branch mine explosion killed 29 men
  • It is the worst mining disaster in the United States since 1972
  • The mine had a spotty safety record
  • Tuesday's ceremony will include state dignitaries and the victims' relatives

(CNN) -- Acting West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin will join the families of the 29 men who perished in an explosion at the Upper Big Branch Mine a year ago Tuesday.

The April 5, 2010, explosion was the worst mining disaster in the United States since 1972, when 91 miners died in a fire at the Sunshine Mine in Kellogg, Idaho.

The Big Branch mine -- owned by Massey Energy -- had a spotty safety record prior to last year's explosion, with three deaths reported over the previous 12 years.

Most of the blast victims were working in an area where long-wall cutting was taking place. The technique uses a large grinder to extract coal and creates large amounts of coal dust and methane gas, both of which are explosive.

2010: Obama eulogizes W. Virginia miners
Miner's wife: 'I still feel him here'
RELATED TOPICS

The remembrance ceremony will take place Tuesday in Whitesville, which is located 30 miles south of Charleston. Tomblin will be joined by other state dignitaries, his office said.

Last month, Tomblin unveiled a new, specially equipped truck designed to help rescue trapped miners -- part of that state's response to the Big Branch explosion.

"I am still saddened by the loss," Tomblin said at the time. "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," according to the acting governor.

Tomblin became West Virginia's chief executive in November, when Gov. Joe Manchin resigned to fill the unexpired term of U.S. Sen. Robert Byrd.

 
Quick Job Search