34 miners trapped after Bosnia earthquake

Friday 05 September 2014 16.11
Quake area around Zenica had been recovering from severe floods that hit the region earlier this year
Quake area around Zenica had been recovering from severe floods that hit the region earlier this year

Thirty-four Bosnian coal miners are trapped half a kilometre underground after an earthquake triggered a rock burst, leaving rescue teams struggling to clear debris to reach them.

The 3.5 magnitude earthquake hit the central town of Zenica on yesterday afternoon, causing rocks in the nearby Raspotocje mine to fracture half an hour later, blocking parts of the mine, officials said.

Communications had been established with the trapped miners, who had been underground for more than 16 hours.

The rock burst was the third this year at the mine, and the previous two injured 16 miners, Zenica mines general manager Esad Civic said today.

"Out of 56 miners who worked in the afternoon shift on Thursday, 22 have left the pit while 34 remain trapped," he told regional television.

"We have carried out all activities to assess the air quality, reduce the quantities of methane and pipe in enough air."

He said the rescue operation was expected to take several hours.

The Raspotocje mine produces coal for Bosnia's largest power company, EPBiH.

The area around Zenica had only recently been recovering from two periods of severe floods after heavy rains caused flooding in May and August this year.