UPDATE: 25 dead, 4 still missing in West Virginia mine explosion - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

UPDATE: 25 dead, 4 still missing in West Virginia mine explosion

MONTCOAL, W. Va. (ABC)-- The explosion at a West Virginia coal mine has now become the nation's worst such disaster in a quarter century.  Over Monday night, Massey Energy announced that at least 25 of its miners are dead and the dangerous mission to rescue four more has been stopped.  This is all taking place 1000 feet below ground at the Upper Big Branch Mine.

The explosion at the underground coal mine happened around three o'clock Monday afternoon.  Over two dozen are now confirmed dead and at least four others are still missing.  The search has been suspended because rising methane gas levels in the mine made it a high risk for another explosion.

The Massey Energy Company's Upper Big Branch Mine is about 30 miles south of Charleston, West Virginia.  Massey is the sixth biggest mining company in the nation and it has a long record of safety violations.

Just last year, Massey paid 4.2 million dollars in criminal and civil fines following a fire in one of its mines that killed two people in 2006.  It was the largest financial settlement in the history of the industry.

For concerned family members who rushed to the mine following the explosion, the wait and then not knowing were heart wrenching.

This is the worst U.S. mine disaster since 1984.  West Virginia's mining director said though the situation does not seem promising to reach the four still missing, rescuers wouldn't give up.

Online Reporter: Jill Courtney

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