Ten miners are trapped following a coal mine explosion in southern Poland, the second facility suffering such incident in days

Contact with 10 miners was lost at the Zofiowka coal mine in southern Poland, following an explosion in the early hours of Saturday, Polish media reports, citing officials. A total of 52 workers were in the area affected by the blast – 42 were able to escape on their own.

The incident was reportedly caused by a methane release. The blast took place at a depth of around 900 meters, the media reports. A total of 30 rescuers divided into six teams were sent to the mine, JSW, the company that operates the facility, said. It is unclear so far if there are any casualties.

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The incident comes just days after a series of explosions at another JSW-operated mine – the Pniowek coal mine, in the same region. The initial explosion occurred in the early hours of Wednesday and was followed by another blast hours later. The blasts killed five miners and injured 25, the authorities said at the time.

On Thursday night, more explosions hit the Pniowek mine, injuring 10 rescue workers searching for seven men who were missing after the initial explosions. The authorities pulled out the rescue teams and temporarily sealed off the area of the blasts to prevent further explosions.

Tomasz Cudny, the head of the mine, called it a “very difficult decision,” as the seven missing miners are believed to still be in the area that is about to be sealed off. It would be unreasonable to continue the operation under these conditions, he added.

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“It would be very risky and very irresponsible to send them to such a dangerous area,” Cudny said. Thursday’s blast left seven people injured, including three who are in serious condition. The series of explosions is said to be the worst incident ever for the Pniowek mine, which was built in the 1960s.

Poland primarily relies on coal for power generation, accounting for over 40% of its total energy consumption as of 2020, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). The nation is the second largest coal producer in the EU behind Germany. It has imported coal from Russia to satisfy its energy needs. Recently, however, Warsaw announced it would cut off coal imports from Russia by May, after the EU introduced restrictions on Russian coal due to Moscow’s military operation in Ukraine.

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