Obama vows safer workplaces as last four miners found dead

President Barack Obama said Saturday that he received the news of the four missing miners' deaths in West Virginia with a "heavy heart."

The four miners were the last to be found from an explosion last week that claimed the lives of 29 total at the Upper Big Branch Mine. Rescue workers had continued to search for the last four before their bodies were found.

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Obama and Congress have called for investigations into mine safety issues, and the president has directed two of his top officials, including Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, to provide him with an initial report by next week.

"This has been America's worst mining disaster in forty years, and the toll on all West Virginians has been immeasurable," Obama said Saturday. "We cannot bring back the men we lost. What we can do, in their memory, is thoroughly investigate this tragedy and demand accountability.


"All Americans deserve to work in a place that is safe, and we must take whatever steps are necessary to ensure that all our miners are as safe as possible so that a disaster like this doesn't happen again."

Democrats in Congress are trying to crack down on litigation by mining companies that kept federal safety officials at arm’s length from the Upper Big Branch mine.

On Friday, upon returning from Prague, the president said he joined West Virginians in "praying for a miracle" that the last four miners would be found alive. But on Saturday, Obama offered his thoughts and prayers to the community and the families of the miners.