Rescuers were held back by poison gases that accumulated near the blast site, about 1.5 miles from the entrance to Massey Energy Co.'s sprawling Upper Big Branch mine. The mine, about 30 miles south of Charleston, has a history of violations for not properly ventilating the highly combustible methane, safety officials said.
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A huge underground explosion blamed on methane gas killed 25 coal miners in the worst U.S. mining disaster in more than two decades.
Crews bulldozed an access road Tuesday so they could drill 1,000 feet into the earth to try to find four others missing and feared dead after the Monday afternoon blast.
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