2 miners missing, 10 injured, dozens more rescued in Polish coal mine accident

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WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Two Polish coal miners are missing and at least 10 were injured after a powerful quake shook the Rydultowy coal mine about 1,200 meters (4,000 feet) underground on Thursday, officials said. Rescuers struggled to reach dozens of others.

The cause of the earthquake and its direct consequences in the mine are not yet immediately clear.

“Some of these people are being brought to the surface, some are already above water and some have not yet been reached by rescuers,” said Aleksandra Wysocka-Siembiga, spokesperson for the Polish Coal Mining Group.

She later said that “a worrying piece of information is that we are currently out of contact with two miners,” but that all others have been accounted for.

Wysocka-Siembiga reported that the accident occurred at 8:16 a.m. The Euro-Mediterranean Seismological Center at that time recorded a 3.1 magnitude quake in southern Poland, near the Rydultowy mine.

Officials said there were 68 miners in the area at the time. Fifteen have been brought to the surface, including 10 who were in hospital, officials said. Air ambulances and 10 teams of personnel took part in the rescue operation.

Łukasz Pach, head of the ambulance service in Katowice, the mining region’s largest city, said the condition of the hospitalised miners was stable.

Large vibrations in the rock in coal mines are caused by stresses in the rock. These can lead to cracks in the rock or sudden ejection of rock into the galleries and tunnels. This can be dangerous for the miners in the area.

Several fatal accidents have occurred at the Polish coal mining group this year.

In May, three miners were killed in a collapse at the Myslowice-Wesola mine, and in April, one more person was killed at the same mine.

In 2019 and 2020, two miners died in separate accidents at the Rydultowy mine.

The Rydultowy mine was opened in 1792 and currently employs about 2,000 miners.

Coal mining is considered dangerous in Poland, where some coal mines are prone to methane explosions or collapses. Digging in older mines involves searching for coal deep underground, which increases the dangers of the work. The coal industry is one of the largest employers in Poland, providing around 75,000 jobs.

Last year, 15 miners died in accidents.

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