Update: feds testing air at W.Va. mine - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Update: feds testing air at W.Va. mine

MONTCOAL, W.Va. (WKOW) -- A Massey Energy executive says federal inspectors are right now testing air samples from the West Virginia coal mine where four miners may be trapped following a major explosion Monday.

The company's vice president says officials with the Mine Safety and Health Administration were testing air drawn from a hole drilled into the mine atop Montcoal mountain.

A spokesperson for the state's mining agency says rescue teams will not be allowed to return until methane gas levels drop out of the explosion range.

Dangerous levels of methane forced rescue crews out of Upper Big Branch mine early Tuesday morning.


MONTCOAL, W.Va. (WKOW) -- Mining officials in West Virginia say despite earlier reports that they tried to signal four missing miners, no contact has yet been attempted at the Upper Big Branch Mine.

Crews have drilled one hole into the mine and are working on two more, trying to vent enough dangerous gas to allow rescue teams to enter safely.

Earlier on Wednesday, Gov. Joe Manchin told reporters crews banged on a pipe trying to signal the miners and got no response.

But an official with the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration says that is not true, and instead, a series of small explosions will be set off to send a signal.

Rescuers say it is possible the missing miners reached a small chamber where they could survive for four days.

Twenty-five people are known to have died. One of the survivors is in the hospital doing well, another is in intensive care.


MONTCOAL, W.Va. (WKOW) -- Crews now plan to drill a third hole at the Upper Big Branch Mine in their efforts to rescue any possible survivors from Monday's blast.

Gov. Joe Manchin said Wednesday morning the third hole needs to be drilled to release dangerous gases from underground, before it will be safe for teams to enter the mine to search for four missing miners.

Also Wednesday, the condition of some other survivors were released; one is doing well and another is in ICU.


MONTCOAL, W.Va. (WKOW) -- Officials are holding out hope that four miners who went missing after a massive explosion in a West Virginia coal mine on Monday are still alive.

Crews have drilled the first hole in the mine to vent poison gases and allow rescuers to safely enter the mine. Authorities are hoping the missing miners found refuge in one of the Upper Big Branch Mine's rescue chambers. But when rescuers tried to signal them by banging on a pipe Wednesday morning, no one responded.

Officials say they will need to drill at least one more hole, and possibly up to four, before teams can safely enter. Once inside, it could take four or five hours to get far enough inside to check for survivors, likely 1,000 feet below the surface.

The next step will be to send another signal to the miners by setting off three small explosions on the surface. Miners are trained to signal back by banging on the metal bolts on the mine roof.

Twenty-five were killed in Monday's blast, making it the deadliest U.S. mining accident since 1984.


MONTCOAL, W.Va. (WKOW) -- Despite efforts to make contact with any possible survivors, there has been no response within the West Virginia coal mine where four miners are missing after a blast that killed 25 on Monday.

At an early morning briefing Wednesday, Gov. Joe Manchin said rescue workers had been banging on pipes but have not heard anything back.

Crews finished drilling one vent hole in an attempt to remove toxic gas from the mine. They are working to make one section of the mine safer for rescuers to reach the miners.

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