Officials Won't Count Out Missing Miners

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Officials say they're about 90 percent sure they know the location of the missing miners.

Rescuers are racing against the clock, drilling holes to ventilate deadly gasses. There are emergency chambers in the mines stocked with oxygen, food and water.

West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin said the first hole reached the Upper Big Branch Mine after rescue workers drilled through about 1,090 feet of earth and rock.

"We did not get any response back," Manchin said at an early morning briefing.

However, Homer Hickam, a former coal miner and author of the book Rocket Boys, told CBN News there is reason to hope.

Homer Hickam appeared on CBN's Newswatch program Tuesday, April 5. Click here for more from Hickam on the safety conditions at the Massey mine and how the community bands together during tragedies like this.

"I never count out a coal miner," he said. "This is their world. If they could have survived the initial blast and the immediate aftermath, they're probably going to be able to rescue themselves and hold up somewhere until someone can come up there and rescue them."

There is a history of safety violations at mines owned by Massey Energy, which owns the Upper Big Branch mine. The company has been fined hundreds of thousands of dollars this past year.

In 2010, regulators issued 122 violations with 58 being given in the month of March.

Still, Massey CEO Don Blankenship says the Upper Big Branch mine may have had more violations than others, but had suffered no major accidents until this week.

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