According to Reuters, a coal mine in remote New Zealand was rocked by an explosion today, trapping some 27 people (both miners and contractors) underground. The type of coal being mined is used in the steel industry and is considered very gaseous. These gasses can build up and can cause explosions. Though several men have escaped and are undergoing medical treatment, rescue crews cannot enter until they have verified the safety of the conditions below ground. The Pike River location is the newest of 22 operating coal mines in New Zealand.
This explosion occurs while the South American mining miracle is still fresh in the minds of the world’s population. After a collapse in Chile, 33 miners were trapped for 69 days before all were rescued on live television in October.
At the other end of the emotional spectrum, the disaster at the Upper Big Branch mine in West Virginia killed 29 miners in April of 2010.
Thousands of miners die worldwide in accidents each year. Those that make a life-long career in coal mining die from black lung disease to a count in excess of 14,000 per year.