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10 missing in Poland's second mine accident in days

By AFP - Apr 23,2022 - Last updated at Apr 23,2022

WARSAW — Rescuers were making their way underground toward 10 miners who went missing on Saturday after a second coal mine accident in just days in Poland.

The latest tragedy took place at the Zofiowka mine in southern Poland, when a tremor shook the pit at 3:40 am (01:40 GMT), 900 metres below the surface, sparking a methane leak, its owner JSW, said in a statement.

In 2018, five miners were killed when an earthquake struck the same coalmine in the country which relies heavily on the fossil fuel.

After Saturday's jolt, 42 of the 52 miners who were underground at the time managed to make it to the surface, the company said.

"Rescuers are without contact with 10 people," JSW added.

Twelve rescue teams were trying to reach the spot where the missing miners were thought to be, 2,300-2,500 metres away, the company said.

By 1000 GMT they were 600 metres from the spot where the missing miners were thought to be, JSW said.

Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki called the accident "devastating" and said he would travel to the scene and that he hoped rescuers would find the missing alive.

JSW is also the owner of a mine in Pniowek some 230 kilometres south, where an accident on Wednesday killed five, including a rescuer, and left seven missing.

An initial explosion occurred shortly after midnight on Wednesday at a depth of 1,000 metres.

A second shook the site while rescue workers were helping the victims of the first.

The search for the seven people missing was called off on Friday after a third blast made conditions in the pit too dangerous, JSW said.

Analysis of the situation “has forced us to abandon the rescue operation undertaken to evacuate the seven miners” still trapped, JSW company chief Tomasz Cudny told reporters on Friday, after a blast ripped through the pit, injuring 10, as rescuers were trying to install a new ventilation duct.

“It’s a very tough decision,” Cudny said.

“It would be irresponsible to send rescuers into so dangerous an area,” Cudny said.

Poland, which relies on coal for some 70 per cent of its power, has faced several other mining accidents in recent years.

In addition to the 2018 accident in Zofiowka, last year two men were killed and two others injured when an underground wall collapsed at the southern Myslowice-Wesola mine.

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