Coal miner JSW has confirmed the death of four workers, one of them a rescue team member, at the Pniówek mine in Poland following a methane explosion during the early hours of 20 April local time.
The incident occurred just after midnight at the underground operation in the southern region of the country, when 42 workers were at a depth of 3,300 feet/1,000 metres at longwall N-6. Of those, 25 were injured and transported to the hospital.
A second explosion at about 3 a.m., which JSW called as the most dangerous, cut off rescue workers.
Poland Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, who was present at the mine site post-blast, called the incident a “great misfortune” as he shared condolences.
“Rescuers always say beautifully that they set out to get living people out and you always have to try to reach these people as quickly as possible, but the situation is really very, very difficult,” he said.
“I extend my sincerest condolences to the families and to those who still have hope, because there has to be hope. All of Poland is with you in our thoughts and deepest sympathies.”
The rescue workers have finished refilling the stone dust barrier protecting the area of the operation from a methane explosion, JSW said in a late morning update, and a search has continued for seven remaining workers.
JSW, or Jastrzębska Spółka Węglowa, has had Pniówek in its portfolio since 1993. Recoverable coal reserves at the mine are estimated at 101.9 million tonnes.