Washington, April 6 (Coal Geology) At least 25 miners were killed and four were still missing Tuesday after an explosion the day before at a coal mine in the eastern US state of West Virginia, the US Mine Safety and Health Administration said.
Monday’s explosion was the worst US mining accident in more than 25 years, several media outlets reported. An accident in 1984 killed 27 people in the state of Utah.
The federal agency originally reported that 12 miners had died, but that more were missing. High concentrations of methane and carbon monoxide are making the rescue work perilous, a spokesman said.
The underground mine is run by Performance Coal, a subsidiary of Massey Energy Co. The incident occurred at the Upper Big Branch Mine near Naoma, West Virginia, about 50 km south of the state capital Charleston.
The cause of the explosion, which reportedly happened during a shift change, was still unknown.
Families of the missing miners were desperately waiting for news of their loved ones in a building at the mine site and in a nearby church.
US President Barack Obama Monday telephoned West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin, offering condolences for the dead and whatever federal assistance state officials deemed necessary.
Over the last 12 years, three workers have been killed in accidents at the West Virginia coal mine, which employs about 200 people and produced some 1.2 million tons of coal last year.