By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent BosNewsLife
WARSAW/BUDAPEST (BosNewsLife)– Nineteen miners have been pulled alive from a copper mine in southern Poland after a small earthquake trapped them.
It took seven long hours, but rescue workers were finally able to reach them nearly a kilometre below ground.
The men were trapped by fallen rock at the Rudna copper mine in the town of Polkowice after a magnitude-4.7 earthquake struck the area late Tuesday.
Spokesman Dariusz Wyborski of mine operator KGHM acknowledged that it wasn’t easy to save them.
“It was a difficult rescue operation” for the 25 people who worked through the night to dig their way to the trapped miners, he Wyborski said.
However, “We had very good maps and specialists,” he added. “There are many underground corridors here. So the maps were crucial in this case.”
The men were lucky as they were in a well-ventilated area when the accident occurred.
Rescue workers admitted there was initial concern they may have died because there no contact for several hours.
ANXIOUS LOVED ONES
Yet, eventually the miners could embrace their anxiously awaiting loved ones after slowly being taken out through a hole dug by the rescuers. Two were treated for minor injuries, while the others, shaken up and covered with grime after a grueling night, were on their way home.
The accident has underscored the dangers of Poland’s mines, which have become crucial to what is East Europe’s largest economy.
In 2006, a gas explosion at a coal mine in same region killed 23 miners.
Poland’s many mines are mostly in the heavily industrialized Silesia area near Germany and the Czech Republic.