PHILADELPHIA Six people were killed and 21 were missing in an explosion and collapse at a West Virginia coal mine owned by a unit of Massey Energy, local media reported on Monday.
"There was an explosion," Robert Jelacic, assistant shift leader for the West Virginia Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services, told Reuters. "We have injuries but we don't know how many now."
Jelacic said the blast was at the Upper Big Branch Mine, owned by Massey's Performance Coal subsidiary.
Massey confirmed the explosion in a statement but offered few details. It said mine rescue teams and state and federal agencies were responding but gave no details of any injuries.
Jeff Pullin, executive producer at the WOWK TV13 station in Charleston, West Virginia, told Reuters six people were killed and 21 were unaccounted for, citing Raleigh County emergency services.
"With 21 people underground, this isn't going to be resolved any time soon," he said, adding the same mine in Montcoal, also known as Whitesville, had a fatal accident in 2001.
Television station WSAZ reported the same number of dead and trapped on its website, citing an unnamed state mining official.
(Reporting by Jon Hurdle in Philadelphia; Writing by Mark Egan; Editing by John O'Callaghan)