Massey Energy’s Upper Big Branch Mine Explosion Kills 25 Coal Miners

Death count updated to 25 on Tuesday, West Virginia state officials reporting that 25 people were killed by a methane explosion Monday afternoon at the Upper Big Branch mine in Montcoal, West Virginia.

Emergency rescue efforts were suspended early Tuesday because of a dangerous buildup of methane and carbon dioxide about a mile and half from the entrance to the sprawling Upper Big Branch mine, owned by Massey Energy Co.

Miners have enough food and water to last 96 hours. The explosion occurred at about 3 p.m. Monday at Massey Energy subsidiary Performance Coal Co.’s Upper Big Branch Mine-South.

An earthquake registering magnitude 3.4 occurred early Sunday morning about 100 miles northeast of Montcoal, W. Va., can cause methane release and explosions in mines, but it is not suspected to be the cause of the methane explosion Monday.

The explosion is the deadliest mine disaster in the United States since 1984, when 27 coal miners were killed at a Utah mine.

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Map of the area near Montcoal, West Virginia and Eunice, West Virginia — about 30 miles south of Charleston, West Virginia.