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Anniversary Of Deadly Sago Mine Blast Marked With Quiet Church

TALLMANSVILLE, W.Va. (AP) - The families and friends of 12
miners who died in a mine explosion a year ago Tuesday marked the
anniversary with a quiet church gathering and an impromptu memorial
after being stopped outside the mine's gates.
There were no official ceremonies and the families decided only
on Monday to gather at the Sago Baptist Church, said Aly Goodwin
Gregg, a spokeswoman for Randal McCloy Jr. The church was the place
where relatives gathered to await details of rescue efforts.
McCloy, the lone survivor of the blast, was among the
approximately two dozen people who gathered at the church and then
walked to the Sago Mine. He did not comment.
International Coal Group, the mine's owner, closed the mine in
honor of the 12 men. The families were told they could not approach
the mine's opening because of safety concerns, ICG spokesman Ira
Gamm said. Instead, they were directed to a fence where they placed
20 black and white roses and black ribbons.
The blast occurred Jan. 2, 2006, caused by a massive lightning
strike sparked methane gas that had accumulated in a mined-out,
sealed-off section of the mine, officials say. One man was killed
in the explosion and the 11 others who were trapped died of
carbon-monoxide poisoning.
The accident prompted sweeping changes to the nation's mine
safety laws. Among them were new federal and state laws that
doubled the amount of emergency air supplies miners must have with
them at work and required mines to store extra air packs
underground.
Russell Bennett, whose father Marty Bennett died in the
explosion, said he wasn't upset by the lack of a public memorial
ceremony.
"We had our own memorial every day this year," he said.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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