Three Coal Miners Killed

In West Virginia Explosion

CAMERON, W. Va. -- A methane gas explosion in a coal mine air shaft killed three workers and injured three others who had to be rescued from more than 900 feet below the surface.

The workers had been digging the new shaft, and were 60 feet from reaching the mine when the explosion occurred, officials said.

About an hour later, two sheriff's deputies descended 940 feet into the earth to retrieve the survivors after local emergency workers declined, saying they were not trained for such a rescue.

"Nobody would get the guys out, so we had to jump in," Deputy Brent Wharry said. "We just did what we do every day. This one is just blown out of proportion."

As smoke wafted from the 25-foot-wide hole, Wharry and Deputy Steve Cook climbed into a five-foot-wide bucket attached to a crane and were lowered to where the injured workers were.

"It was a long trip down and a long trip back, but what happened in between was something you can't describe," Wharry said. "I just don't want to talk about it. I just wish anybody would do that if it was me [down there]."

The bodies of the three dead miners were removed from the northern West Virginia mine, which is run by Consol Energy Inc., 12 hours after the blast. Officials identified them as David Abel, 47, and Richard Mount, 37, both from Ohio; and Harry Roush IIII, 23, from Pennsylvania.

* VERONA, N.Y. -- The Oneida Nation has donated $3 million to Harvard Law School to establish a professorship in Indian studies. The professorship will be the first endowed chair in American Indian studies at Harvard University and the only professorship of its kind east of the Mississippi River.

* DALLAS -- Dallas passed a law to ban smoking in almost all buildings except for some bars, pool halls and tobacco shops. The measure, passed by a 10 to 3 vote in the Dallas City Council, will go into effect March 1. It will ban smoking in public places such as restaurants, bingo parlors, bowling alleys and hair salons.

* ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The company responsible for a laboratory mix-up that led to the unnecessary removal of Linda McDougal's breasts has changed procedures to guard against similar mistakes, officials said. Work folders given to lab workers at Hospital Pathology Associates, which provides pathology services in most of the 14 hospitals run by Allina Hospitals and Clinics in Minnesota and Wisconsin, will no longer contain tissue samples from more than one patient. Tissue samples and patients' paperwork will be color-coded, and two pathologists must sign off on a diagnosis and cross-check a patient's name and identification number on sample slides and paperwork.

* NEW YORK -- An electrical fire spread through the headquarters of the Rev. Al Sharpton's National Action Network, gutting a reception hall one day after Sharpton formally became a Democratic presidential contender in 2004. No one was injured.

-- From Wire Services