Memorial held for eighth anniversary of UBB mine tragedy - WVVA TV Bluefield Beckley WV News, Weather and Sports

Memorial held for eighth anniversary of UBB mine tragedy

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On April 5, 2010, an explosion blasted through the Upper Big Branch Coal Mine, killing 29 workers. 

Eight years later, friends and family of those taken by the blast gathered in remembrance. 

Clay Mullens was one of the many that lost a loved one that day. His brother, Rex, never made it out alive.

"We were devastated. I kind of knew that that's what it was going to be because it took so long. I didn't think there would be any survivors and stuff," Mullens said. 

But his brother wasn't the only person that Clay lost that day. 

"I knew all of those guys instead of two of them, that had come there since I left. That was 29 beautiful men that lost their lives doing the job that they loved to do, providing for their families," Mullens said. 

But there was no way to avoid politics at the eighth year memorial, as the crowd pushed for the support of Joe Manchin, the West Virginia senator that is currently running against Don Blankenship, the man that went to prison for conspiring to violate federal mine safety standards... ultimately leading to the explosion. 

"Don Blankenship was the chief operator of UBB mine, and he allowed that mine to stay unsafe, putting our loved one's lives in jeopardy," he said. 

However, senator Manchin declined to talk politics, but wanted to reflect on that tragic day instead. 

"This is about the quality of people and the families that support the men and women that go into the mine and produce the energy that makes this country what it is, and continues to keep this country strong. That's what people need to remember. And these 29 miners did not die in vain and I'm going to make sure of that," Manchin said. 

The Upper Big Branch Coal Mine disaster was the deadliest of its kind in West Virginia since 1968. 

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