An explosion and fire that hurled debris hundreds of feet killed seven miners--four of them family members--deep inside a family-run eastern Kentucky coal mine yesterday, authorities said.
Floyd County Deputy Sheriff Gillis Conn reported the bodies of seven miners had been located in the RFH Mining Co.'s Mine No. One last night.
Police had believed the miners were trapped 1,400 feet in the mine, but a rescue team located three bodies about 700 feet inside the mine. The others were found much deeper, officials said.
Willard Stanley, state mines and minerals commissioner, identified the miners as Burnis Hamilton, foreman, and two of his brothers, Jack and Don. Wade Hamilton, the son of Purvis Hamilton, a co-owner of the mine, was another victim.
Three other victims, not related to the Hamiltons, were identified as Thurman Reynolds, Ronnie Hall and Palmer Edwin McKenny. All were from Floyd County. No ages were available.
State troopers said the mine exploded at 10:10 a.m., sending up a thick cloud of black smoke. The mine is in the extreme eastern part of the state, not far from the Topmost mine where eight coal miners died in a methane explosion last month.
Terry Mitchell, who was at the site of Wednesday's explosion, said the blast blew debris 300 to 500 feet from the mouth of the mine and hurled a conveyor belt from the mine past some trees outside.
Twenty-four mine deaths occurred within a week in early December, among 153 deaths reported in mining accidents last year.