8 miners have been killed and 15 more remain trapped following an explosion in a deep coal mine yesterday in Ruda Slaska, Southern Poland. Reports suggest the miners were knowingly put at risk to recover company property.
Update 23/11/06: The death toll has now risen to 23, with no survivors.
Rescue attempts are ongoing with teams working through the night in the hope of finding survivors, though hopes are fading as air supplies run low. Temperatures in the mine are as high as 40 degrees centigrade and there is little oxygen and a risk of further explosions. A spokesman for the state-owned Polish Coal Co. which operates the Halemba mine said "we fear the worst".
However, reports have already emerged that the mine was closed on safety grounds in March after dangerous methane gas levels were detected. The miners were sent back in to recover around £12 million worth of equipment, when a massive explosion thought to be caused by methane trapped them deep underground.
3 years ago miners in the Silesia region where the Halemba mine is situated blocked roads and fought police in Warsaw with molotov cocktails over World Bank-backed plans to cut 14,000 jobs. Prior to this incident, 80 miners had died on the job in Poland in the last 3 years alone.