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Gov. calls for safety stand-down at W.Va. mines

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VICKI SMITH and DAVID GUTMAN | February 20, 2013 02:23 PM EST | AP


CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin is asking coal companies to halt production for an hour to review safety procedures following the state's fourth mining fatality in two weeks and the sixth since November.

Tomblin signed an executive order urging mine operators to hold safety talks with employees over the next 24 hours, starting Wednesday afternoon. Inspectors and mine safety officials plan to visit about 500 mines.

In April 2010, an explosion at Massey Energy's Upper Big Branch mine killed 29 men and former Gov. Joe Manchin ordered a similar temporary stop in production. He also ordered one in 2006.

The request came after a worker was struck by a scoop Tuesday night and died of his injuries. The death at Pocahontas Coal Co.'s Affinity mine near Sophia was its second this month. The mine faces several safety violations.