COPY-Additional blasts rock Alabama's biggest mine, now closed

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. More underground explosions have rocked Alabama's largest coal mine since a blast last week forced the evacuation of scores of workers. Now federal regulators are saying they aren't sure when production can resume.

No one has been hurt in any of the blasts, and government inspectors say the severity of the explosions are unknown since the mine remains too dangerous for anyone to enter.The Shoal Creek Mine, which recently underwent a court-ordered safety inspection, remained closed for a fifth day today following what regulators said was a series of three blasts.The first occurred early last Friday, when about 140 workers were evacuated safely.A spokeswoman with the Mine Safety and Health Administration said two more explosions occurred Sunday and yesterday.Shoal Creek, is located about 45 miles west of Birmingham. It was among more than a dozen operations to undergo court-ordered safety inspections by the state in late January and early February after the union filed suit over lax oversight by the state.The mine is describe as the state's biggest and one of the largest in the nation. It has about 820 employees and produced two-point-two (m) million tons of coal last year.

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