State police equipped with riot gear gassed a group of about 400 rock and bottle-throwing coal miners picketing a struck mine in western Kentucky yesterday.

State trooper Ron Thompson said several persons were injured in the melee, including a trooper who was hospitalized. Several arrests were made, he said.

Thompson said the trouble started when the crowd of pickets gathered at the Green Coal Co. mine in Daviess County. He said troopers ordered the miners to disperse and they moved to a cemetery across the road. Police then used tear gas to try to break up the crowd. "They were shouting obscenities at passing cars and at police officers and throwing rocks, bottles and sticks," he said.

As negotiatiors for the mines and the 160,000 striking mines took a breather recess to reassess their positions in contract talks in Washington, angry strikers pressed their efforts to halt production of nonunion coal. Tons of coal were dumped along roads in Kentucky on Monday as about 500 United Mine Workers members invaded nonunion coal fields and forced about 20 truck drivers to abandon their loads.

The miners also shut down coal loading docks and slashed tires of some trucks carry nonunion coal.