Wednesday 23 October 2019

'Huge tragedy' - at least 13 people killed in explosion at Czech mine

A rescue team is pictured at the CSM coal mime in Karvina, Czech Republic
(Jaroslav Ozana/CTK via AP)
A rescue team is pictured at the CSM coal mime in Karvina, Czech Republic (Jaroslav Ozana/CTK via AP) Newsdesk Newsdesk

The death toll in a methane explosion at a coal mine in the north-east of the Czech Republic has increased to 13.

OKD mining company spokesman Ivo Celechovsky said 12 of the dead were Polish nationals while one was Czech.

Another 10 miners were injured in the explosion on Thursday afternoon at the CSM mine near the town of Karvina. Previously, the death toll stood at five.

Polish President Andrzej Duda declared Sunday a day of national mourning for the victims of the tragedy.

Flags in Poland will be lowered to half-mast on public buildings and large sporting and entertainment events will be cancelled.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and his Czech counterpart Andrej Babis have offered their condolences to the families of the victims.

The two leaders visited the mine.

"To our knowledge ... there is a fire underground, very high temperature, very high risk of subsequent explosions," Mr Morawiecki said.

The Polish leader visited two injured miners at the University Hospital in the nearby city of Ostrava.

One of them was in a critical condition with burns over 50% of his body, hospital spokeswoman Nada Chattova said.

Another miner was released after being treated in Karvina.

"I wish to express words of deepest sympathy to all the close victims of the mining disaster in Karvina," Mr Morawiecki said.

"This is a huge tragedy for all Poles and Czechs. On this difficult day, we strongly show our solidarity and sense of national community."

The explosion occurred about 2,600ft underground.

OKD executive director Boleslav Kowalczyk said rescue efforts are continuing despite a fire in the mine.

PA Media

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