W.Va. Gov. Calls for Moment of Silence for Miners

The governor of West Virginia is asking people across the nation to join in a moment of silence Monday afternoon to honor the 29 men who were killed last Monday in the worst U.S. mining disaster since 1972.

At 3:30 p.m. ET on Monday, Gov. Joe Manchin and First Lady Gayle Manchin will participate in a wreath-laying ceremony in honor of the miners involved in last week's mine disaster as efforts to recover the remaining bodies continue.

"We want to show the miners' families and all of the first responders that we are keeping them in our hearts and prayers," Manchin stated in an announcement. "West Virginians are the most caring people and we come together in a time of need. These families are not alone and their loved ones will not be forgotten."

Last Monday, a huge underground explosion blamed on methane gas rocked Massey Energy Co.'s Upper Big Branch mine in Montcoal, W.Va., as a total of 31 miners were in the area during a shift change.

Only two were saved.

On Sunday, churches in and around Naoma, W.Va., paid tribute to the 29 miners who were killed in the accident.

Many had been praying for a miracle as four the 29 were unaccounted for up until Saturday.

Rescue workers found the bodies of the final four miners deep in the coal mine, making last Monday's violent explosion the worst since 1972, when 91 miners died in a fire at the Sunshine Mine in Kellogg, Idaho.

According to officials, recovery crews were in the coal mine Monday, hoping to bring out the last nine bodies. Recovery attempts have to date been hampered by high levels of hazardous gases.

President Barack Obama on Monday ordered U.S. flags in West Virginia to be flown at half staff as a "mark of respect for the memory of those who perished in the mine explosion in Montcoal." A similar declaration had been made by Gov. Manchin on Saturday.

The West Virginia Council of Churches, meanwhile, has established the Montcoal Mining Disaster Fund, and is now accepting donations to be distributed among the families of miners who were killed in last week's explosion.

In addition, gifts and other items are being accepted for the families of the deceased miners at Appalachian Bible College.

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