MINE EXPLOSION INQUIRY TO START
7 KILLED AND 6 INJURED IN WEST VIRGINIA BLAST
Mount Hope, W. Va., July 24th--An investigation will start tomorrow into what caused an explosion which took the lives of seven Southern West Virginia coal miners yesterday.
The victims perished in a blast that rumbled through the siltex mine of the New River Company here.
Six miners received minor injuries, and three rescue workers were overcome by gaseous fumes and smoke. The mine has a work force of 121, but only 22 men were underground at the time.
A joint statement by Federal and State mine safety officials said the explosion was caused by the ignition of gas, probably of the melthane variety.
A company spokesman said the first blast may have set off a series of explosions, which broke loose tons of slate deep within the mines.
The victims were Luke Bowyer, James McGuire and Robert Daniels, all of Maple Fork; Howard Morris, of Mount Hope, Hubert Dowdy, of Carlisle, Dallas Ayers, of Beckley, and Clarence Cummings, of Fayetteville. All were found more than 2 miles inside the mine.
Hugh Garrett, 50, of Mount Hope, a member of the search party which found the bodies, said he believed none of the victims survived the blast.
"I don't think any of them moved," he added.
Willis Criss, of nearby Oak Hill, said he was working near the explosion area with about a dozen other miners.
"We could feel it," he said. "Our ears stopped up and we knew something blowed up."
Criss and his fellow workers put up a barricade to ward off the deadly fumes. When the air cleared they walked out of the mines.
Another mine accident occurred in 1963, when 22 men were killed in an explosion at a Clinchfield Coal Co. mine in the northern part of the State.
A Baltimore, Maryland, newspaper, ca July 1966