Links at top: Read more: http://blogs.wvgazette.com/coaltattoo/CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Memorial services are planned today from the Coal River Valley to the state Capitol to mark the one-year anniversary of the Upper Big Branch Mine Disaster.
Shortly after 3 p.m. on April 5, 2010, an explosion ripped through the Massey Energy operation near Montcoal in Raleigh County.
Twenty-nine miners died, making it the worst U.S. coal-mining disaster since 38 miners were killed on Dec. 30, 1970, at Finley Coal Co.'s No. 15 and No. 16 mines in Leslie County, Ky.
Multiple investigations -- including a broad-ranging criminal probe -- continue, while state lawmakers, Congress and other political leaders have declined to pass new safety protections for the nation's miners.
Nationwide, a total of 48 coal miners died on the job last year, the most in any year since 1992. In West Virginia, last year's 35 coal-mining deaths were the most since 1979.
"When the people's representatives are more concerned about fattening corporate profit margins than they are about keeping workers alive, they have crossed a dangerous line and we must hold them accountable," said Cecil Roberts, president of the United Mine Workers union.
To remember the miners, one ceremony is planned for 3 p.m. at the First Christian Church in Beckley, and a private memorial service for family members, political leaders and guests is set for 6 p.m. at Whitesville Elementary School. The 6 p.m. event will be broadcast on the Internet by the West Virginia University School of Journalism's Faces of the Mine project at http://www.facesofthemine.com/category/faces-of-the-mine/. A candlelight vigil is to follow.
Senate President Earl Ray Tomblin, acting as governor, has asked all West Virginians to observe a moment of silence starting at 3:01 p.m. Investigators believe the explosion occurred sometime between 3:01 and 30 seconds and 3:02 and 30 seconds. Tomblin has also asked all churches across the state to ring their bells 29 times starting at 3:01 p.m. He is also scheduled to lay a wreath at the coal miner statue at the Capitol at 10 a.m.