Bosnia coal mine cave-in claims five lives: union leader
Five Bosnian coal miners were killed after an earthquake triggered a tunnel cave-in, trapping dozens of men underground for 20 hours, a union leader said Friday.
“Twenty-nine (trapped miners) came out, but unfortunately five did not survive,” Sinan Husic said on national television, without offering details on the circumstances and time of the men’s death.
Husic said the death toll came from rescuers who were still inside the Raspotocje mine in the central town of Zenica, which was hit on Thursday by a 3.5-magnitude earthquake.
Twenty-nine other miners, visibly exhausted and covered in soot, emerged into daylight on Friday after rescue crews broke through to the gallery 600-metres (yards) underground where they had been sheltering since the quake that triggered a gas explosion and subsequent tunnel cave-in.
Twenty-five of them were hospitalised but none with life-threatening injuries, a hospital spokeswoman said.
Two miners were injured in the gas explosion, and were hospitalised overnight.
“I was lucky,” Muris Tutnjic, one of them, told local media.
Another 22 miners managed to make it out earlier, just following the blast, mine manager Esad Civic said.
Regional governor Nermin Niksic praised the rescuers for “making superhuman efforts to save their comrades”.
Mine expert Nuraga Duranovic said the bodies of the five men had not yet been recovered, and that rescue operations had ceased for the day.
“But we will go down tomorrow again,” Duranovic said.
The coal mines around Zenica, northwest of the capital Sarajevo, are notorious for deadly accidents. In 1982, 39 miners were killoed in an explosion.
No other major damage was reported from the quake, which struck 53 kilometres (31 miles) northwest of Sarajevo.