A rescue effort for a group of coal miners trapped underground in West Virginia is underway, but it could be a very long process.
TALLMANSVILLE, W.Va. (AP) – A coal mine explosion that may have been sparked by lightning trapped 13 miners 260 feet below ground Monday, and rescuers went in to find them after waiting almost 12 agonizing hours for dangerous gases to clear.
The condition of the miners was not immediately known. Four co-workers tried to reach them but stopped because of contaminated air, and the blast knocked out the mine’s communication equipment, preventing authorities from contacting the miners.
It was not known how much air they had or how big a space they were in. The miners had air-purifying equipment but no oxygen tanks, a co-worker said.
…The mine has a single entrance, and the shaft winds its way for miles underground. The miners were supposed to be working about 160 feet below the surface, said the wife of one of the trapped men.
But it was unclear how far into the shaft they had gone when the blast struck.
Kitts said if the miners reached the section where they were headed, they would be 10,000 feet from the mine’s entrance.The storm from West Virginia rolled through here this evening, and the lighting strikes were severe. It literally shook our house, so I wouldn’t at all be surprised if it did cause the explosion in the mine.