Poland suffers second mine blast in a week

Ten miners are trapped following an explosion in southern Poland, the second such incident in days

Contact with 10 miners has been lost at the Zofiowka coal mine in southern Poland, following an explosion in the early hours of Saturday, Polish media has reported, citing officials. A total of 52 workers were in the area affected by the blast – 42 were able to escape on their own.

The incident was reportedly caused by a methane release. The incident took place at a depth of around 900 meters, according to local sources. A total of 30 rescuers divided into six teams have been sent to the mine, JSW, the company that operates the facility, explained. It is unclear so far if there are any casualties.

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The incident comes just days after a series of explosions at another JSW-operated mine – the Pniowek coal mine, in the same region. The initial emergency occurred in the early hours of Wednesday and was followed by another blast hours later. Five miners were killed and 25 injured, the authorities said at the time.

On Thursday night, more explosions hit the Pniowek mine, leaving 10 rescue workers hurt. The authorities pulled out response teams and temporarily sealed off the area of the blasts to prevent further explosions.

Tomasz Cudny, the head of the mine, called it a “very difficult decision,” as the seven missing miners are believed to still be in the area that is about to be sealed off. It would be unreasonable to continue the operation under these conditions, he added.

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“It would be very risky and very irresponsible to send them to such a dangerous area,” Cudny said. Thursday’s blast left seven people injured, including three who are in serious condition. The series of explosions is said to be the worst incident ever for the Pniowek mine, which was built in the 1960s.

Poland primarily relies on coal for power generation, accounting for over 40% of its total energy consumption as of 2020, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). The nation is the second largest coal producer in the EU behind Germany. It has imported coal from Russia to satisfy its energy needs. Recently, however, Warsaw announced it would cut off imports of the fuel from Russia by May, after the EU introduced restrictions due to Moscow’s ongoing military offensive in Ukraine.