The FBI has interviewed nearly two dozen current and former employees of Massey Energy in a criminal probe of the West Virginia mine explosion that killed 29 men, a federal law enforcement official said Friday.
The official said that in the interviews over recent days the FBI has been looking for any evidence that the company engaged in criminal negligence. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the inquiry has not been made public.
The FBI declined to comment at its headquarters in Washington.
Massey spokesman Jeff Gillenwater said the company is aware that investigators are interviewing witnesses but is "not aware of the nature of their investigation. We intend to cooperate in all phases of the accident investigation."
The FBI probe follows strong statements two weeks ago in which President Barack Obama criticized the company.
On April 15, Obama asked the secretary of labor to work with the Justice Department "to ensure that every tool in the federal government is available in this investigation."
"Safety violators like Massey have still been able to find ways to put their bottom line before the safety of their workers — filing endless appeals instead of paying fines and fixing safety problems," Obama said at the time.
Massey Energy statement called the president's remarks "regrettable" and said that "unfortunately, some are rushing to judgment for political gain or to avoid blame."
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