Recovery teams working before dawn today finished the grim task of recovering the last of 29 West Virginia miners killed in the nation's worst coal mining disaster in decades. Jama Jarrett with the state Office of Miners' Health Safety and Training said the last bodies were removed from deep inside the sprawling mine around 2 or 3 a.m. today and were being sent to the state medical examiner for autopsies. Recovery efforts had been stalled in previous days by volatile gases, but teams entered Monday after the tunnels were ventilated. Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship said the recovery means the company and others can now focus on the task of trying to determine what caused the worst U.S. coal mining disaster since 1970. Jarrett said investigators had not entered the mine by early this morning. The team of inspectors from the Mine Safety and Health Admi n i s t r a t i o n b r i e f e d Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis and MSHA director Joe Main at the Upper Big Branch mine Monday. Richmond, Va.-based Massey has been under scrutiny for a string of safety violations at the mine, though Blankenship has defended the company's record and disputed accusations that he puts profits ahead of safety. Authorities have said high methane levels may have played a role in the disaster. Massey has been repeatedly cited and fined for problems with the system that vents methane and for allowing combustible dust to build up. West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin is calling for greater enforcement at state mines that have similar problems. Manchin is to attend an emergency meeting today of a state board charged with writing mine safety regulations. The state has nearly 200 underground coal mines.
Bodies of all dead W.Va. miners recovered
Published: Tuesday, April 13th, 2010
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