A miner dies and another is missing after a coal mine accident in Poland. 17 miners are injured

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — One of the Polish coal miners who were injured when a tremor struck the Rydultowy coal mine on Thursday has died in hospital, a mining official in southern Poland said. At least 17 miners were reported injured in the accident.

The tremor, deep underground took place as an earthquake was registered in that part of Poland but it was not clear if the two were related.

The head of the Polish Coal Mining Group, Leszek Pietraszek, said the miner died late Thursday but provided no other details.

The search for one missing miner was suspended due to the high risk of more tremors, head of the High Office for Mining, Piotr Litwa, said.

Seventy-seven miners were brought to the surface, including 17 who were hospitalized immediately after the quake. One of them, with head injuries, was airlifted to a major hospital in the city of Katowice, officials said. Some of the injured were later discharged from the hospital.

Earlier reports said two miners remained unaccounted for and that 76 were brought to the surface.

Twenty specialized teams took part in the rescue operation in difficult conditions underground as the tremor struck about 1,200 meters (4,000 feet) below the surface. Its immediate effects inside the mine were not immediately clear.

Spokeswoman for the mining group Aleksandra Wysocka-Siembiga said the accident took place at 8:16 a.m. The Euro-Mediterranean Seismological Center noted a magnitude 3.1 earthquake in southern Poland near the Rydultowy mine at that time.

Officials initially said that 68 miners were in the area at the time, but later raised that number to 78.

Łukasz Pach, head of the ambulance service in Katowice, the mining region's main city, said the miners still hospitalized were in stable condition.

Mass rock tremors in coal mines resulting from stress building in the rock can lead to rock bursts, or sudden ejections of rocks into the corridors and tunnels that can be dangerous to miners in the area.

The Polish Coal Mining Group has suffered several deadly accidents this year. In May, three miners died in a cave-in at the Myslowice-Wesola colliery, and one was killed at the same mine in April.

Two miners lost their lives in separate accidents in 2019 and 2020 in the Rydultowy mine, which was opened in 1792 and currently employs about 2,000 miners.

Coal mining is considered hazardous in Poland, where some coal mines are prone to methane gas explosions or to cave-ins. Excavation in older mines goes deep into the ground in search for coal, increasing the job's hazards. The coal industry is among Poland's key employers, providing some 75,000 jobs.

Last year, 15 miners lost their lives in accidents.


Associated Press writer Jan M. Olsen in Copenhagen contributed to this report.