Page last updated at 14:59 GMT, Friday, 18 September 2009 15:59 UK

Polish coal mine blast kills 12

Explosion kills Polish coal miners

Twelve miners have been killed in a methane gas explosion at a coal mine in Ruda Slaska-Kochlowice, southern Poland, officials say.

The blast struck the Wujek-Slask mine on Friday morning, a spokeswoman for Poland's mines authority, Edyta Tomaszewska, told reporters.

She said 30 miners were taken to hospital. The blast occurred 1,050m (nearly 3,500ft) underground.

The miners were working more than a kilometre underground at the time.

Several of the injured have sustained severe burns, and medical staff have warned the death toll may rise.

Gas sensors

The explosion is thought to have been caused by the ignition of a pocket of methane gas.

Andrzej Bielecki, the mine's chief engineer, told Polish television channel TVP INFO that around 40 miners had been underground in the area at the time of the blast.


Production at the mine has been halted, although the fire has been brought under control and miners are continuing to work in areas that have been designated as safe, he added.

The explosion is the worst mining accident in Poland since a methane gas explosion killed 23 miners at the Halemba mine in Silesia three years ago, says the BBC's Adam Easton in Warsaw.

Several of that mine's management are now on trial.

Investigators will want to know why the mine's sensors did not pick up the presence of the gas in this latest disaster, our correspondent adds.

Poland's President Lech Kaczynski has sent his condolences to the victims' families. Interior Minister Grzegorz Schetyna was expected to arrive in the area later on Friday.

The mine is situated in mineral-rich southern Poland near the industrial city of Katowice.

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