7 miners missing in Poland after tremor hits coal mine

Four coal miners were rescued but seven others are missing after a tremor struck a mine in southern Poland, a spokeswoman for a coal mining company said Saturday.

A rescue operation was launched at 11:25 a.m. local time Saturday after a tremor occurred at the Zofiowka coal mine, said Katarzyna Jablonska-Bajer of the Jastrzebie Coal Company.

The mine is located in the southern town of Jastrzebie-Zdroj near Poland’s border with the Czech Republic.

She said four miners were brought to the surface but contact was lost with seven others who were 900 metres (2,950 feet) underground, preparing a new corridor for extraction works.

“There has never been such a powerful tremor at the mine,” she said, adding that rescuers cannot go to the site because of high methane levels in the mine.

TVN24 said the tremor was also felt on the surface and shook some houses. The state mining office WUG said the quake had a 3.4 magnitude.

Initially the spokeswoman said there was some hope the missing miners could have taken another exit but later she said there was just one way out.

Coal mining is a major industry in Poland and coal remains the main source of energy and heating, but Poland is taking some steps to shift toward renewable, cleaner sources of energy.

The Main Statistical Office says some 58.7 million tonnes of coal were extracted last year, some 4.3 million tonnes less than in 2016.

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