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Officials, industry react to Upper Big Branch explosion

Rick Steelhammer
Rep. Nick J. Rahall, D-W.Va., was among state leaders who attended a press conference at Marsh Fork Elementary School on Tuesday.

Here are reactions released by elected officials and coal industry executives on Tuesday to the Massey Energy underground Upper Big Branch coal mine explosion in Raleigh County.

As of Tuesday night, 25 miners were confirmed dead and four remained unaccounted for.

"Clearly, we must get to the bottom of what happened, how and who was responsible. And we must and will hold those parties accountable. At least 25 coal miners have died inside a mine that has over time amassed scores of safety violations, including 57 citations just last month. West Virginia's coal miners are the backbone of this great nation that depends on their work. They deserve nothing less than a safe working environment, and an employer who respects and values their safety."

Sen. Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va.

"For the families and friends of those still missing and for those who have not heard any news at all, I wish so much I could ease your pain and I pray for their safety and hope for a miracle ... I will demand answers. We will leave no stone unturned in determining how this happened and in taking action for the future. ...

We in West Virginia revere our coal miners. We know their unique sacrifice, and we are forever in their debt."

Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va.

"I want to know why this tragedy happened; there will be a thorough investigation. We will seek answers about the cause of this disaster. We will look for inadequacies in the law and enforcement practices, and I will work to fix any we have.

 We will scrutinize the health and safety violations at this mine to see whether the law is circumvented and miners' precious lives were willfully put at risk and there will be accountability."

Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va.

"Our prayers are with all those touched by the tragic events at the Upper Big Branch coal mine ... Our support continues for the four missing miners and the rescue teams who have labored so courageously throughout the day and night. The families who have suffered such great loss are in the hearts and prayers of the entire mining community."

National Mining Association President Hal Quinn

"West Virginians are tough and resilient people, especially those who mine coal, who have once more been tested as no other.

 They are men and women willing to work in the mines, in return for the pleasure of living in West Virginia, where their desire is to raise families in the hills where their ancestors built a state out of wilderness and where their roots, and heritage, are firmly planted in those hills."

Senate President Earl Ray Tomblin, D-Logan

"On behalf of the members of the West Virginia House of Delegates, I extend deepest condolences to the loved ones of those lost in the Performance Coal Company mine accident and prayers for the safety of those injured and missing, as well the heroic rescue workers. West Virginia is a family, and when a tragic event like this takes place, it is extrremely painful for all of us.

House Speaker Rick Thompson, D-Wayne

"Over the past few years, we have met too many family members who have suffered the tragic loss of loved ones in a mine disaster ... We promised them that we would do everything we could to learn the cause of these tragedies and to keep miners safe. Today, we extend this same promise to the families and community dealing with a devastating loss."

Reps. George Miller and Lynn Woolsey, both D-Calif.


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