At least seven miners were killed and ninteen are trapped following an explosion that tore through an underground coal mine in Raleigh County, West Virginia, this afternoon. The mine, which employs about 200 miners, is owned by Virginia-based Massey Energy, and this disaster represents the second major incident at a Massey site in recent years, following a 2006 explosion in Logan County, West Virginia, that killed two miners. A United Workers official said the current hypothesis is that the explosion was the result of a methane gas buildup in a “sealed off” section of the mine, though this theory hasn’t yet been confirmed by state or federal authorities. Mine rescue teams and state and federal officials are currently working on the rescue effort for the trapped individuals. [NYT, CNN]
Update: As of early Tuesday morning, multiple sources are reporting 25 miners were killed in the explosion, with at least four others still missing.