JULIAN, W.Va. -- Massey Energy has established a 20-member team of company executives to attend wakes and funerals for the 29 miners who died in the Upper Big Branch Mine, said CEO Don Blankenship.
The company has also begun discussing benefit packages with survivors, Blankenship said Wednesday.
Beneficiaries will receive company life insurance payouts that amount to five times a miner's annual pay, Blankenship said in an interview with the Daily Mail.
The company is also making up the difference between the workers' compensation amount families would receive in any event and the straight pay a miner would have received had he continued working, Blankenship added.
That payout will last for the life of the widows, Blankenship said.
The company is also providing health benefits to survivors for at least 20 years, he said.
Blankenship said Massey officials have met with survivors who were ready to talk about benefits. The company tried to anticipate any questions they might have, instead of handing them paperwork.
"Instead of them having to sort it out or ask a lot of questions, we have specifically handed them their situation, not the math," Blankenship said.
The company is giving families $5,000 a year for child care. Sixteen children under the age of 18 were directly affected by last Monday explosion, the worst U.S. mining disaster in 40 years.
"The benefits, I think, by any measure, are very good, and we're very proud of the benefits, although we realize it doesn't help much," Blankenship said.
But he said he thinks families will be OK financially.
"I'm always careful to say they'll be OK 'financially,' " Blankenship said. "I think they'll be OK if we can get past the trauma and other issues."
It's not clear if the company's benefits will be enough to stave off what are expected to be multimillion-dollar lawsuits against the company on behalf of miners' widows and families.
The team of Massey executives is tasked with sending two people to services.
"We've had trouble keeping up," he said.
Blankenship has spoken with family members, including a 45-minute Tuesday phone conservation with a widow.