Death toll climbs to 12 following accidents at two coal mines in Poland
Two accidents at coal mines in Poland have left at least 12 people dead, the Associated Press reported.
Six of the victims died following tremors and methane gas discharge at the Borynia-Zofiowka Mine. Rescue workers are still searching for four other missing miners.
On April 25, Jastrzebska Spolka Weglowa (JSW), which operates both mines reported that rescue efforts were ongoing, but were difficult. “They (rescue teams) have entered the most difficult section of the gallery that was located the closest to the center of the shock wave. The rescue workers have found a local flooded area,” the company said in a statement. “The atmosphere in the mining roadway near the end of the ventilation system continues to be unfavorable. The high temperature and the high methane concentrations are slowing down the pace of the rescue operation. At present, rescue workers are transporting ten-meter-long sections of ventilation pipe with a diameter of 800 mm to be used as another extension in the direction of the working face and to reinstate an atmosphere fit for breathing purposes while simultaneously reducing the temperature and diluting the amassed methane. While extending the ventilation system, the rescue workers are simultaneously looking for the missing miners. Thus far, more than one kilometer of the mining roadway has been aerated using a separate ventilation system. In this final section the incoming rescue crews will be outfitted with a device to locate the VHF sensors built in the missing miners’ cap lamps.”
Also, a miner injured by methane gas blasts at the Pniowek Mine died in the hospital on, said the Jastrzebska Spolka Weglowa (JSW) company, which operates both mines in Poland's southern Jastrzebie-Zdroj region, close to the Czech border.
His death brings the toll from repeated explosions at the Pniowek Mine to six. The search for seven Pniowek miners still missing was suspended after more methane blasts on injured 10 rescue workers. Teams are building two solid partitions to seal off the blasts area from the rest of the mine, for safety reasons.
In addition to the victims, dozens of miners were injured, many of them hospitalized with burns.
Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said it was a “black week” for the nation’s coal industry that employs almost 80,000 miners, and said the families of victims will receive state support. He spoke as he visited the Central Mining Rescue Station in Bytom, in southern Poland.
Prosecutors have opened investigations into the accidents, and Morawiecki said that experts will check conditions and procedures at both mines. Most Polish coal mines are in the southern Silesia region and many have a high presence of methane in the rock.
Some 70 percent of Poland’s energy comes from coal, a proportion that has been sharply criticized by the European Union and environmental groups who are concerned about CO2 emissions and meeting climate change goals.
Poland has been trying to scale down its use of coal. Morawiecki recently said Poland has stopped coal imports from Russia and its ally Belarus in response to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, but Poland has for years been reducing its dependence on Russian energy sources.
Photo: Polish President Andrzej Duda