BROOKWOOD, Ala. (AP) _ An explosion rocked a deep coal mine, killing at least three miners and leaving nine others missing and presumed dead, a company spokesman said Monday.
Four people were injured in the Blue Creek No. 5 mine, and one was in critical condition, said Kyle Parks of Walter Industries.
The explosion was caused by a cave-in during maintenance operations at the mine 36 miles southwest of Birmingham, said Parks, corporate communications director for the firm based in Tampa, Fla.
The falling rock struck a battery generator, creating sparks that ignited methane gas, said Dennis Hall, a spokesman for the company’s subsidiary, Jim Walter Resources Inc. Methane is a natural component of most coal seams.