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Wednesday, April 7, 2010 as of 11:14 AM ET


Molly Henneberg

Washington, DC


Crews Rush to Rescue Trapped Miners

April 5, 2010 - 8:27 PM | by: Molly Henneberg

Five highly specialized mine rescue teams are on the scene of an explosion at the Upper Big Branch Mine-South, an underground coal mine near Whitesville, W. Va., according to a federal mine official.

Seven people were killed in the blast, and  19 more are unaccounted for at the site, about 30 miles south of the capital of Charleston. Charleston Area Medical Center has received at least one injured minor and is “preparing for other patients,” a spokeswoman said.

The state mine director said the explosion happened around 3 p.m. Monday. The mine is operated by Performance Coal Company, a subsidiary of Massey Energy based in Richmond, Va.

Operations started at Upper Big Branch Mine-South in 1994. About 200 people work there, and last year the mine produced about 1.2 million tons of coal.

Ellen Smith, the editor of Mine Safety and Health News, tells Fox News that Massey Energy paid $168,000 in uncontested civil penalties for violations related to this mine in 2009.

Upper Big Branch Mine-South has had three job-related deaths in the past 12 years.

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