Update: Rescue teams still searching for three missing in mine

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The search effort continues to locate missing persons at the Rock House Powellton mine in Clear Creek, Raleigh County.

Officials from the W.Va. Office of Miners’ Health, Safety & Training and Alpha Natural Resources began work early Wednesday morning to deploy the day’s plan of action.

In the past 24 hours, additional access has been cleared to the mine portal in Boone County. This will enable additional rescuers to enter the mine. The teams will be entering this morning.

Eugene White, MHS&T Director, confirmed large fans operated overnight to move fresh air into the mine at the main portal site. Water pumps also operated overnight, clearing standing water from the mine, which will allow rescuers to expand their search.

Multiple teams of rescuers from MHS&T and Alpha Natural Resources will be entering the mine this morning. A four-man team will enter the main portal on the Boone County side of the mine, aided by four team members who will guide the effort from the surface.
Two four-man teams will enter the mine from the Rock House entrance in Raleigh County, with support on the surface.

MHS&T confirmed late Monday night one of the four missing persons emerged on his own from the Rock House Powellton mine.

The man informed officials the remaining three missing persons were alive and still in the mine and provided details regarding their location.

Two four-man rescue teams explored the mine again that night, aided by eight team members who guided the effort from the surface. The teams exited the mine at near daybreak after search efforts were unsuccessful and oxygen reserves in their rescue apparatus were depleted.

On Tuesday, officials worked to remove standing water from an alternate entryway and pump fresh air into the mine, allowing rescue teams to expand their search area in the mine for the missing individuals.

“Our priority is rescuing these individuals and maintaining the safety of our mine rescue teams. I have ordered the coordination of all resources needed for rescuers to continue to search the mine. We’re doing everything we can to accelerate the rescue,” said Gov. Jim Justice.

After being briefed on the rescue situation Monday night, Justice drove to Whitesville and spent many hours with the families at the Community Center and visited the mine rescue team at the mine portal before they went underground.

“These families, friends, and the entire community are really hurting and need to be in our prayers. We also need to keep the mine rescue teams in our prayers as they attempt to pull off this rescue. We are blessed to have the experience and leadership of MHS&T Director Eugene White,” Justice added.

The Office of Miners’ Health, Safety & Training, W.Va. National Guard, W.Va. State Police, Raleigh County Sheriff’s Office, Boone County Sheriff’s Office and mine officials have coordinated the search and rescue efforts since the four individuals were reported missing late Saturday near the mine in Clear Creek.

Additional updates will be provided as they become available.

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