Deteriorating Air Quality in W. Va. Mine Forces Rescuers to Turn Back

Rescuers continue to be thwarted in their attempts to locate four miners still missing in the blast at the Upper Big Branch South Mine in Whitesville, W. Va. Twenty-five miners are confirmed dead following an April 5 explosion, and until April 8, rescuers were unable to continue their search because of the buildup of hazardous gases in the mine.

Rescue efforts initially were halted on the day of the explosion because of lethal levels of carbon monoxide, hydrogen and methane gas – thought to be the cause of the explosion – building up in the mine. Holes were drilled to release the gases and four, eight-member rescue teams were able to enter the mine early in the morning of April 8. They’ve turned back, however, because of deteriorating air quality that is creating an explosive atmosphere in the mine.

Families of the missing miners continue to hold out hope that they were able to reach a “safe” room, stocked with enough food, air and supplies to keep 15 miners alive for 96 hours.

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