Bells, tears mark 1 year since W.Va. mine blast

Associated Press
Mine helmets and painted crosses sit at the entrance to Massey Energy's Upper Big Branch coal mine Tuesday, April 5, 2011 in Montcoal, W.Va. The memorial represents the 29 coal miners who were killed in an explosion at the mine one year ago today. (AP Photo/Jeff Gentner)

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A year later, the pain of the nation's deadliest coal mine explosion in decades remains fresh for the families of the 29 men killed at West Virginia's Upper Big Branch mine.

More than 120 fathers, mothers, siblings and children crowded a school gym and church, shedding countless tears Tuesday as they remembered and prayed for the victims killed when the powerful blast tore apart the Upper Big Branch mine on April 5, 2010.

Church bells rang across the state at 3 p.m., the estimated time of the explosion. Massey Energy Co., owner of the mine, halted underground production in West Virginia, Virginia and Kentucky.

Labor Secretary Hilda Solis told the families the Obama administration will make mines safer and continue its civil and criminal investigations.

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