(AXcess News) Tallmansville, W. VA – Officials said that 13 miners were trapped more than a mile below ground Monday after a lightning strike that caused an explosion in a coal mine in Upshur County, about 100 miles northeast of Charleston West Virginia.
The explosion occurred during a shift change at the Anker West Virginia Mining Company’s Tallmansville coal mine.
A series of severe thunderstorms moved through West Virginia early Monday, putting the time of the explosion at approximately 8AM EST. Authorities were unsure of the actual cause of the coal mine explosion as a team of rescue workers were enroute from Charleston.
The explosion is the state’s worst mining accident since February 2003, when three contract workers were killed by a methane explosion while drilling an air shaft at a Consol Energy Mine near Cameron.
Steve Milligan, deputy director of Upshur County’s Office of Emergency Management to media there that rescue workers had attempted to reach the trapped coal miners but were turned back. The team of rescue workers enroute from Charleston are trained for such types of rescues.
No word on the coal miners condition was released. Officials felt optimistic about reaching the trapped coal miners in time.
While West Virginia’s coal mining safety record is quite good, ending 2005 with only three fatalities, today’s explosion was the worst coal mining accident since that of 2003, when three contract workers were killed by a methane explosion while drilling an air shaft at a Consol Energy Mine near Cameron.