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Lightning Blamed In Mine Blast That Leaves Two Missing

June 29, 1986

SUMMERSVILLE, W.Va. (AP) _ Dynamite exploded Saturday at a coal mine apparently after being struck by lightning, sending tons of dirt and rocks flying and leaving two workers missing, officials said.

The lightning apparently set off the explosive as workers prepared for blasting operations at the hilltop surface mine operated by High Power Mountain Energy Corp., said Mark Potnick, the company’s safety director.

The workers were still missing about nine hours after the early-afternoon blast, said Mark Scott, director of the state Energy Department’s division of mines and minerals.

Recovery workers were using search dogs and a helicopter to try to locate the missing men. They may have been thrown by the blast or buried under the moving earth, Scott said.

″There’s still a very good chance that they’re still alive,″ he said late Saturday night.

″This is a freak accident. ... When there is real clear evidence of a storm, they will usually stop blasting operations,″ Scott said earlier. ″I understand this storm came up real quickly, they didn’t expect this.″

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