Remembering the Monongah Mining Disaster and how safety laws have changed since

MARION COUNTY, W. Va (WDTV) - It was a tragic event that happened exactly 111 years ago, and it's described as "the worst mining disaster in american history."

The Monongah Mining disaster killed more than 360 people and possibly even more.

"It's believed that there were many more because the mine operators didn't keep records of who entered and exited the mines at the time," Mike Caputo, VP of United Mine Workers of America District 31,

The majority of the victims were Italian immigrants.

The details of this incident have since been engraved in the minds and memories of many, and pushed lawmakers to find solutions.

"If you look into the history of coal mine tragedies, something happens the government does a little something," said Caputo.

That something is pass safety laws and so forth.

According to Caputo, the Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act that passed in 1969 set the tone for the future. This happened after 78 died in a mine explosion in Farmington.

"The difference between the Farmington and the others, it was the first time satellite imagery was televised," he said.

With technology, equipment, and protective gear improvement, it has helped with safety. Even rescue teams are better trained in case of an emergency.

Caputo says unions also helped.

"It was a very big part," he said.