WEST VIRGINIA (WOIO) - West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin says rescue crews entered the Upper Big Branch mine shortly before 5AM Thursday to look for four miners who have been missing since an explosion killed 25 other miners Monday afternoon.
The Governor said the rescue teams were moving as fast as they could, and hoped to reach an area where they might find the miners by noon. He stressed the operation is a rescue operation.
Authorities were "hoping for a miracle" in their efforts to find the missing miners. They say it was necessary to release gases from the area so rescuers could work safely.
Meanwhile, loved ones and friends gathered Tuesday to remember the deceased miners and give support to family members.
Congress, meantime, is planning to investigate the causes of Monday's deadly West Virginia mine explosion and whether policy changes are needed to prevent future disasters.
The coal miners were thousands of feet underground when the explosion went off. This is being called the worst U.S. mine disaster since 2006.
Rescuers were forced to halt the search Monday in the area of Massey Energy Co.'s Upper Big Branch mine. Massey Chairman and CEO Don Blankenship is on site at the Upper Big Branch mine. Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Chris Adkins and Vice President of Safety & Health, Elizabeth Chamberlin are coordinating Massey's search and rescue efforts with State and Federal officials.
The cause of the blast has yet to be determined. A buildup of highly flammable methane gas is suspected. The same odorless killer forced rescue operations to halt Monday night.
Monday evening, CEO Don Blankenship made the following statement:
"Tonight we mourn the deaths of our members at Massey Energy," said Don Blankenship. "I want to offer my condolences to the miners' families who lost loved ones at Upper Big Branch. And I want to thank the rescue teams and the Massey members who continue to work hard on behalf of our miners and their families."
Massey Energy Company, headquartered in Richmond, Virginia, with operations in West Virginia, Kentucky and Virginia, is the largest coal producer in Central Appalachia.
For the families of the victims, click on the links to the right if you would like to help: