FAIRMONT, W.Va. -- For the 44th year, the United Mine Workers of America is holding a memorial service marking the 1968 coal mine explosion that killed 78 West Virginia miners. The public event is set for 1 p.m. Sunday at the Farmington No. 9 memorial, just north of Mannington. UMWA International President Cecil E. Roberts is the keynote speaker. The Marion County mine owned by Consolidation Coal -- now Consol Energy, based in Canonsburg, Pa. -- exploded at 5:30 a.m. on Nov. 20, 1968, with 99 men inside. Only 21 escaped. Nineteen of the 78 who died remain entombed there.
The blast prompted Congress to pass the federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act.