Report Blames Kentucky Mine Blast On Leaky Gas, Open-Flame Torch

Pikeville, KY (AP) -- Authorities in Kentucky say safety violations, including use of an open-flame torch near a leaky methane seal, sparked a deadly underground explosion at a mine in May.

According to a state report, the protective seal was "poorly constructed" and failed to meet federal guidelines.

Five miners died in the May 20th explosion at the Kentucky Darby Number One Mine, a blast so powerful that it ruptured oil cans and broke mirrors on vehicles parked outside.

The report says the torch ignited the leaking methane as two of the victims were repairing metal straps. The straps intersected the top of the seal and were used as underground roof supports.

The report says the two also shouldn't have been allowed to use a torch at that site because ventilation current passed through the area on its way to the surface.

Copyright 2006 by the Associated Press. All rights reserved.