One dead, four missing after unprecedented tremor traps Polish miners underground

One dead, four missing after unprecedented tremor traps Polish miners underground
By Robert Hackwill
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Race to save four missing men is on after earthquake near Czech border hits team drilling new deep corridor 900 metres below surface.


An earth tremor has hit the Zofiowka coal mine in the town of Jastrzebie-Zdroj southern Poland, releasing high concentrations of methane gas, and trapping at least four miners below ground. One miner has been killed.

Intially seven men were caught in the accident, but two have been rescued.

"We had no contact with seven people, eight rescue units reached two miners who got up to the surface and now are being medically treated. We have no contact with five other miners. There are three rescue units more joining the operation which is going on," said JSW Coal's Daniel Ozon.

The mine is near the border with the Czech Republic, and is preparing a new corridor for extraction works at a depth of 900 metres. It has never experienced such a large tremor before.

The two recovered miners have been injured. The remaining 239 people who were underground when the tremor occurred escaped to the surface safely.  Rescuers cannot currently go to the site because of high methane levels in the mine. After the tremor these reached well over 50%, and had only fallen to 40% some 12 hours later,

TVN24 said the tremor was also felt on the surface and shook some houses. Initially JSW said there was some hope the missing miners could have taken another exit but it was later revealed there was just one way out. Coal mining is a major industry in Poland and coal remains the main source of energy and heating. The Main Statistical Office says some 65.8 million metric tons, (58.7 million tonnes), of coal were extracted last year, some 4.8 million tons less than in 2016.

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