Posted with permission from Jordan Barab.

On November 19, 1968, 50 years ago, 78 miners died in an explosion at the Consol No. 9 coal mine in Farmington, West Virginia.

At 5:30 in the morning on November 20th, a huge explosion tore through Consolidation Coal’s Number Nine mine. The force of the blast could be felt for miles. There would be dozens of other explosions in the days to come and intense fires. Ninety-nine miners were underground at the time; 21 managed to make it to the surface, the other 78 all died. Nineteen bodies were never recovered.

More information here, a National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) oral history here, and a 2006 NPR story here.

Major mining disasters such as the Farmington coal mine explosion and the Sunshine Mine fire in 1972 led to the Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act of 1969 and the Federal Mine Safety and Health Amendments Act of 1977.

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