Polish rescuers bring trapped miners to surface

Wednesday 20 March 2013 20.05
The miners became trapped after a small earthquake caused a collapse
The miners became trapped after a small earthquake caused a collapse

Polish rescue workers pulled 19 miners alive and well from a copper mine in southern Poland after a small earthquake trapped them 600 metres below the surface.

It took seven hours to tunnel through collapsed rock to reach the miners who were working at the Rudna copper mine.

Two were treated for minor injuries, while the others were shaken up and covered with grime after a gruelling night.

Families of the miners, who gathered near the mine, cheered when the mine's operator, KGHM, announced that all 19 were found alive.

"This was the biggest accident in KGHM history," Chief Executive Herbert Wirth said.

"Never in our history has it happened that 19 miners were trapped with no contact."

The Rudna mine is about 400km southwest of the Polish capital, Warsaw.

After the earthquake last night, workers on the surface lost contact with the trapped miners because communication lines into the shafts had been severed.

The mine is in the Silesia region, near Poland's borders with Germany and the Czech Republic, and has been in operation since 1974.

State-controlled KGHM is Europe's second-biggest copper producer.

Poland has large numbers of mines, mostly in the heavily industrialised Silesia region.

In 2006, a gas explosion at a coal mine in the region killed 23 miners.

Keywords: poland, rudna mine