West Virginia Mining Tragedy

From Yahoo News, there are 25 dead in a West Viginia mine blast:

MONTCOAL, W.Va. – Rescue teams planned to search again Tuesday for four workers missing in a coal mine where a massive explosion killed 25 in the worst U.S. mining disaster in more than two decades, though officials said the chances were slim that the miners survived, and the search may not be able to start again until evening.

The suspended rescue mission would resume after bore holes could be drilled to allow for toxic gases to be ventilated from Massey Energy Co.'s sprawling Upper Big Branch mine about 30 miles south of Charleston, state and federal safety officials said.

Chances of finding survivors get slimmer with each passing hour and there was a total of 31 miners in the area at the time of the blast.

At this point in time the cause of the blast is unknown and even though the article notes that "Massey subsidiary Performance Coal Co. has a history of violations for not properly ventilating highly combustible methane gas", there will be time to look at that issue later.

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LAT:

Violations in recent weeks include cracking and collapsing of mine walls on Feb. 21; ventilation problems on March 17, March 23 and March 30; drill dust on March 25; and inadequate air quality on March 23; according to U.S. records.

Likely the kind of inadequate air quality that has a tendency to explode.