WARSAW – Four people died and seven were missing in a coal mine in southern Poland, a senior government official said, after what the mine’s owner described as a probable methane explosion in the early hours of Wednesday.
Owner JSW said the probable explosion at the Pniowek coal mine in Pawlowice happened shortly after midnight at a depth of 1,000 metres (3,300 feet). A total of 42 miners were in the area at the time, 21 of whom were transported to hospital.
“Very sad information,” Deputy Prime Minister Jacek Sasin wrote on Twitter. “Four miners died as a result of an explosion in the Pniowek Mine. The search for 7 others is ongoing… I join in prayer with the families and loved ones of the miners.”
Most of the injured suffered from burns, doctors told reporters.
JSW said that 13 teams were involved in the rescue, but that efforts had been put on hold.
“The rescue operation was temporarily suspended until the dust barrier, protecting the rescue base against the methane explosion, is rebuilt,” the company said in a statement
It added that the families of the miners affected were being helped by psychologists.
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said his “thoughts and prayers” were with the miners’ families and that he would travel to the area.
Shares in JSW were down 1.4% at 0807 GMT.