2 miners are missing, 15 injured and dozens are still being rescued in Polish coal mine accident

WARSAW, Poland — (AP) — Two Polish coal miners were unaccounted for and at least 15 were injured after a powerful tremor shook the Rydultowy coal mine about 1,200 meters (4,000 feet) underground on Thursday, officials said. Rescuers struggled to reach about two dozen others.

The cause of the tremor and its immediate effects inside the mine were not immediately clear.

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

She later said that “one worrying information is that we have no contact with two miners at the moment,” but that all the others have been accounted for.

Wysocka-Siembiga said the accident took place at 8:16 a.m. The Euro-Mediterranean Seismological Center noted a magnitude 3.1 tremor in southern Poland near the Rydultowy mine at that time.

Officials said 68 miners were in the area at the time. Forty-one have been brought to the surface, including 15 who were hospitalized, officials said. Airborne ambulances and 10 teams of personnel were taking part in the rescue operation.

Łukasz Pach, head of the ambulance service in Katowice, the mining region's main city, said the hospitalized miners were in stable condition.

Mass rock tremors in coal mines resulting from stress building in the rock can lead to rock bursts, or sudden ejections of rocks into the corridors and tunnels that can be dangerous to miners in the area.

The Polish Coal Mining Group has suffered several deadly accidents this year.

In May, three miners died in a cave-in at the Myslowice-Wesola colliery, and one was killed at the same mine in April.

Two miners lost their lives in the Rydultowy mine in separate accidents in 2019 and 2020.

Opened in 1792, the Rydultowy mine currently employs about 2,000 miners.

Coal mining is considered hazardous in Poland, where some coal mines are prone to methane gas explosions or to cave-ins. Excavation in older mines goes deep into the ground in search for coal, increasing the job's hazards. The coal industry is among Poland's key employers, providing some 75,000 jobs.

Last year, 15 miners lost their lives in accidents.

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