Apr 6, 2010 11:54 AM by Bea Karnes, News First 5

Victims' relatives angry over how they heard the news

Some relatives of those killed in the West Virginia coal mine explosion are angry about the way they heard the news.

Rather than getting a call from executives of the mining company, they say they learned their loved ones were dead from government officials or a company Web site.

One woman whose father died in the blast says the workers "took a chance every day" to help make Massey Energy a big company, "and they couldn't even call us." The victim, 62-year-old Benny Willingham, had been a miner for 30 years, the last 17 with Massey, and was just five weeks from retiring.

The company, based in Richmond, Va., is one of the nation's top five coal producers and among the industry's most profitable. But it has a spotty safety record. Safety officials say the mine has a history of violations for not properly ventilating methane, a highly combustible gas that's believed to have played a role in yesterday's explosion.


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