Rescue crews search for missing Polish miners

Local residents in Jastrzebie-Zdroj have created a makeshift memorial for the victims, laying flowers and burning candles near the mine entrance.

Published: 07th May 2018 07:22 PM  |   Last Updated: 07th May 2018 07:22 PM   |  A+A-

By AFP

WARSAW: Rescuers on Monday were searching for three missing miners more than 48 hours after a deadly earthquake hit a coal mine in the country's south killing two men nearly a kilometre (mile) underground.

Local residents in Jastrzebie-Zdroj have created a makeshift memorial for the victims, laying flowers and burning candles near the mine entrance.

Family members of the missing miners were being offered psychological counselling at the site.

"We continue to work with great determination and we believe that the miners are alive" Daniel Ozon, the CEO of the Jastrzebie Coal Company (JSW) that manages the Zofiofka mine, told reporters. "It's a very difficult job," he added.

Rescue crews and miners were working in sweltering heat around a kilometre (0.6 miles) beneath the surface to complete ventilation shafts to dispel high levels of methane hindering their efforts. They were also using video probes and sensors designed to pick up signals from the lights fixed to the helmets of the missing miners. So far crews have not been able to contact them. One of the dead men who was brought to the surface on Sunday was identified after a letter to his wife was found near the man's body. DNA tests were due to be carried out Monday to identify the other victim.

The earthquake hit the mine at 11:00 am (0900 GMT) on Saturday about 900 metres (3000 feet) below ground level. According to the Polish Mines Office, it was a 3.42 magnitude quake. Around 250 miners had been working underground when the quake struck. Local residents also reported feeling a strong jolt in their homes in the region not known for seismic activity.

JSW is the largest company producing coking coal in the European Union. 

Both Poland's President Andrzej Duda and Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki visited the site of the disaster over the weekend.

Coal is the main energy source in Poland with 65.5 million tonnes mined in predominantly state-owned mines the EU country of 38 million people last year. 

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