Gas explosion kills two in Polish coal mine

WARSAW May 6 (Reuters) – Two men died on Friday after a gas explosion ripped through a coal mine in southern Poland, a mine official said.

The methane explosion late on Thursday caused a fire in the Krupinski mine, owned by Europe’s biggest coking coal miner JSW near the town of Pszczyna in Silesia.

High temperatures, smoke and fire hampered rescue efforts and only eight miners were brought to safety during the night, leaving four others trapped underground until midday on Friday.

“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.”

Earlier, Polish media reported two miners had been killed.

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

Accidents, including gas explosions, are not uncommon in mines in Poland, which relies on coal for more than 90 percent 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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