Protecting miners' safety 12 years after Sago Mine Disaster

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UPSHUR COUNTY, W. Va. (WDTV) -- It was 12 years ago that 12 miners lost their lives in the Sago Mine Disaster. Although time has passed, memories from that day haven't faded away.

By now most know initial reports from the disaster were that all the miners survived the blast; however, that wasn't true. Randall McCloy Jr. was the only miner to make it out alive.

It wasn't the initial explosion that killed the miners. For many, they passed away when their oxygen tanks ran out or malfunctioned. There weren't enough tanks to go around.

Following the disaster, new regulations have been put in place for underground rescue chambers in the coal mines, along with additional rescue air packs.

Lawmakers and mine safety officials say their thoughts are with the families of those who lost their lives that day and they will continue to work to protect miners' safety.

"I think miners' safety is absolutely, has to be, number one at all times," said Senator Shelley Moore Capito.

"Unfortunately it took that sort of disaster to do some of the things that needed to be done back in 2006," said Phil Smith, Director of Communications and Governmental Affairs with the United Mine Workers of America. "We hope it doesn't take another disaster to do some more things."

Smith added there is still work to be done.