Topmost, KY Coal Mine Explosion, Dec 1981
EXPLOSION RIPS THROUGH MINE, KILLING 7, LEAVING ONE MISSING.
Topmost, Ky. (UPI) -- A powerful explosion ripped through a coal mine Monday and killed seven miners a half mile underground. Rescuers searched into the night for one miner still missing.
Kentucky State Police spokesman Bill Riley of the Hazard post said rescuers who found the bodies of five men 2,500 feet underground at 10 p.m. EST located two more victims about an hour later.
Riley said there was no way of knowing if the eighth and last miner would be found alive.
The blast occurred in an independent mine in the heart of the southeastern Kentucky coal fields, and state officials said explosives being taken into the mine by a late-shift work crew apparently blew up.
"I presume there will be a temporary morgue set up," said Riley. "No names are being released pending identification of the bodies and the next of kin."
Albert Alexander, district supervisor for the Kentucky Department of Mines and Minerals, said earlier rescue workers had dug about 1,000 feet within four hours of the blast.
Willard Stanley, state commissioner of mines and minerals, said tests showed there was no methane in the mine. Stanley said the late-shift miners were carrying powder.
Alexander had said earlier the miners had "about a 50-50 chance" of surviving the explosion.
Authorities said the explosion occurred about 3 p.m. when the night shift was coming on duty. They said at least one miner had made his way to the surface after the explosion at the Adkins Coal Co. No. 18 mine.
"We're doing awful well, but the closer we get to them the slower it will be," Alexander said.
"More than likely we'll hit areas with bad carbon monoxide soon and the roof may have fallen in, so its hard to get in."
Alexander said the coal shaft led into the side of a mountain and that the men were believed to be about 2,400 feet from the entrance.
Continued on Page 2.