Gas explosion kills two in Polish coal mine

6 May 2011
By Sofia Mitra-Thakur
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A mining emergency services car in front of a Polish coal mine

A mining emergency services car in front of a Polish coal mine

Two men have died after a gas explosion and subsequent fire at a Polish coal mine.

High temperatures, smoke and fire have hampered rescuers working at the Krupinski mine, owned by Europe's biggest coking coal miner JSW near the town of Pszczyna in Silesia, southern Poland.

Just eight miners were brought to safety, with four others trapped underground overnight until midday the next day.

"Out of the four miners rescued today, one unfortunately died," said Franciszek Wrobel, a director at the mine.

"We have also found the body of one of the rescuers. We are still looking for a second rescuer. We don't know where he is."

Polish media reported earlier two miners had been killed in the methane explosion.

Surviving workers are receiving hospital treatment for burns but Wrobel quoted medical staff as saying their lives were not in danger.

Accidents like gas explosions are not uncommon in mines in Poland, which relies on coal for more than 90 per cent of its energy needs.

The centre-right government wants to float state-owned JSW on the Warsaw bourse in June but is locked in negotiations with unions over the plan.

JSW employs nearly 23,000 people and is estimated to be worth as much as $3.6 billion.

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