First rescue attempts prove fruitless at West Virginia mine

(NBC) – The wait continues on the fate of four missing coal miners thought trapped after Monday's massive explosion at a West Virginia mine. The blast also that killed 25 other fellow miners.

Crews worked through the night to drill four ventilation shafts more than a thousand feet deep in hopes of re-starting rescue efforts later Wednesday.

Three of those shafts are to help vent the dangerous build-up of methane gas and carbon dioxide. A fourth to help rescue teams which because of conditions have been idle for more than 24-hours.

"We think we can get our rescue teams back in this afternoon," said West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin.

It is an agonizing wait for those on the outside.

"It's very emotional and because we're all family. I mean, just like brothers and sisters," said resident Enga Cottrell.

A family that understands the dangerous and risks of the job, and the reality of the situation for the four miners who are still missing.

"These are very strong people, strong in their faith and strong in their family, they are very hopeful," Manchin said.

As the slow search for survivors continues so does the search for answers.

"We know it wasn't operating safely, or we wouldn't have had an explosion," said Kevin Stricklin of the Mine Safety and Health Administration.

Even before the deadly blast, the upper big branch mine had been cited for 124 safety violations this year including serious problems with ventilation dust and methane gas.

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