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The Charleston Gazette is reporting that 25 miners are known to have died in a methane gas explosion at a West Virginia mine and four are still missing. Rescuers have been pulled out of the mine as methane gas has built up in the mine. Methane, when mixed with the right amount of oxygen, is highly explosive. Crews are now drilling boreholes into the mine in an attempt to ventilate parts of the mine where the four missing miners are thought to be. “As soon as we can send rescue teams back in the mine, we’ll do it,” said Kevin Stricklin, an official with the federal Mine Health and Safety Administration. “I think it’s a dire situation.” “I just don’t think there is much hope held out at all [with the families],” said Sheri McGraw, a West Virginia Red Cross official. “They made it clear to the families that it is not a good situation in there and probably not survivable.”

The Massey Energy-owned mine exploded Monday afternoon. The explosion occurred near the time of a shift change. “The disaster comes just four years after a series of mine accidents in West Virginia and Kentucky — including one that brought criminal prosecution of a Massey subsidiary — killed 19 workers and prompted the first reform of U.S. mine safety laws in 30 years,” Gazette reporters wrote.

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