Coal Tattoo

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Having now confirmed at least 25 deaths in the Massey Energy mine disaster yesterday afternoon, federal and state rescuers have — at least for now — called off continuing efforts to find the four remaining workers unaccounted for at the Upper Big Branch Mine in Raleigh County.

Ron Wooten, director of the West Virginia Office of Miners’ Health, Safety and Training, said officials hope to resume rescue efforts if conditions in the mine improve.

“This still continues to be a rescue operation. We have four miners unaccounted for. We’re going to do everything in our power to locate those people alive.”

But Kevin Stricklin, coal administrator for the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration, didn’t seem to hold out much hope:

“I think it’s a dire situation. But it is still a rescue operation.”

At the same briefing, which ended a little while ago, Rep. Nick J. Rahall, D-W.Va., promised a full investigation of the explosion and said lawmakers woud revisit rems made in 2006 to see if more improvements can be made:

Obviously, one coal miner’s death is one too many.