LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) -- The nation's coal mines are nearing a new low mark for on-the-job deaths for the third year in a row and have a chance to keep the number of fatal accidents in single digits for the first time.
With just a day left in 2016, U.S. coal mines have recorded nine deaths. West Virginia had four. Kentucky had two deaths and there was one each in Alabama, Illinois and Pennsylvania.
The low numbers are attributed to far fewer coal mining jobs and tougher enforcement of mining safety rules.
Only one fatal accident was attributed to an explosion of gas or dust, a far cry from the deadly explosion in 2010 at the Upper Big Branch mine in West Virginia that killed 29.