Hearings into Massey Mine Disaster Begin

24 May 2010 (Last Updated May 24th, 2010 18:30)

Court hearings continued today into the Massey Energy-owned Upper Big Branch mine accident, which killed 29 miners on 5 April in Beckley, West Virginia, US. Several miners testified yesterday during a hearing before the US House Education and Labor Committee, saying they had witnessed s

Court hearings continued today into the Massey Energy-owned Upper Big Branch mine accident, which killed 29 miners on 5 April in Beckley, West Virginia, US.

Several miners testified yesterday during a hearing before the US House Education and Labor Committee, saying they had witnessed signs that an accident could take place but these were ignored not long before the incident, which was the deadliest US mine disaster in 40 years, occurred.

The miners also said the company routinely sent radio alerts underground whenever an inspector was going to arrive at the mine.

West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin also testified and said he thought future penalties should be brought in for employees who failed to report safety hazards.

Performance Coal, the operator of the Upper Big Branch mine, is being investigated for wilful criminal activity by the US Attorney's Office in Charleston in West Virginia.