Authorities said Friday that eight coal miners were killed and 18 others were injured in an accident at a mine in central Serbia.

The incident at the Soko coal mine was reported shortly after 4:05 a.m. Officials stated that an investigation was ongoing to determine the exact cause.

“Inspectors and police are on the scene doing everything necessary to determine the cause,” stated Zorana Mihajlovic, Minister of Mining and Energy.

Initial reports by the state RTS television and local media stated that a portion of the pit had collapsed, releasing methane gas and trapping miners. MIhajlovic visited the site on Friday and denied any reports of an explosion.

Mihajlovic expressed condolences and promised state assistance, saying, “There wasn’t an explosion or anything.”

Since its inception in the early 1900s and including a 1998 accident that claimed 29 lives, the Soko mine has been involved in several serious accidents.

Drago Milinkovic (the manager of the Soko coal mine) stated that initial information indicated there had been a sudden release of methane gas into the mining area.

He stated that the “Soko coalmine is a dangerous coalmine, dangerous in terms of methane.” “Security measures have been at their highest levels in the coal mine. However, there was an unexpected release of methane. Monitoring and equipment did not help.”

Nearby Aleksinac doctors said that most injuries sustained by injured miners aren’t serious. The town authorities have declared Saturday a day for mourning.

The stunned locals stood silently near the mine. Milan, a miner, identified himself only as Milan and said that he worked the night shift.

He said, “I switched shifts to care for my family.” It could have been me.