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10 missing after an underground quake in a coal mine in Poland

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WARSAW, Poland (AP) — A powerful underground tremor and methane gas discharge hit a second coal mine in southern Poland on Saturday, forcing dozens of workers to flee the mine and preventing authorities from contacting 10 other miners still missing, officials said.

The accident at 3:40 a.m. Saturday at the Borynia-Zofiowka mine happened 900 meters (2,950 feet) underground. It was the second mine accident in just four days in the coal region around the town of Jastrzebie-Zdroj, near the Czech border.

Rescuers will join the search for 10 miners missing after a powerful underground tremor and methane gas discharge at the Borynia-Zofiowka coal mine in Jastrzebie-Zdroj, southern Poland, on Saturday 23 April 2022.

Repeated methane explosions since Wednesday at the nearby Pniowek mine have killed five miners, left seven miners and rescue workers missing and injured dozens more. The search for missing people in Pniowek was suspended on Friday after further explosions on Thursday evening injured seven rescuers, some seriously.

Both mines are operated by Jastrzebska Spolka Weglowa, or JSW.

The company said 52 workers were in the area of ​​the shaking on Saturday at the Borynia-Zofiowka mine and 42 of them were able to exit the shaft on their own without injury. A rescue operation has been launched for the 10 missing miners.

By late Saturday afternoon, rescuers were 600 meters (yards) from the site of the tremor and were slowly advancing towards where the missing were believed to be, JSW said. But he added that high levels of methane in the area could pose a hazard and require caution from the rescue team.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said on Twitter that it was again “devastating news” from the mining region and said his prayers were with the missing and their loved ones.

Poland depends on its own coal and coal imports for nearly 70% of its energy needs, drawing criticism from the European Union and environmental groups concerned about CO2 emissions and meeting climate change targets . Most Polish coal mines are in the southern region of Silesia.

The Polish government has reduced the use of coal and recently announced that it will end coal imports from Russia by May, as part of Poland’s drive to reduce its dependence on Russian energy in response to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

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