Cutting Torch Found To Be Cause of Mine Explosion

Harlan, KY. (AP) -- A report released tonight says a cutting torch caused a methane explosion that killed five Kentucky miners in May. The report said the torch was being used in violation of mine safety practices

According to the report, the accident occurred because the mine operator did not observe basic safety practices and because critical safety standards were violated. The U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration also says a safety barrier that blocked off an abandoned section of the coal mine was improperly constructed.

MSHA investigators met with family members of the miners today before it released the findings.

In releasing the report, federal regulators also announced a $336,000 fine against the operator of Kentucky Darby mine number one for six safety and health violations contributing to the accident on May 20th.

(Copyright 2007 by the Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

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