Polish mine explosion kills 12


At least 12 miners were killed today in a methane explosion at a coal mine in southern Poland, the government said.

"The accident was probably caused by a fire ignited by methane gas . . . but we don't yet know exactly what happened," Andrzej Bielecki, chief engineer at the Wujek mine, told Polish television channel TVP INFO.

"We have halted production, though miners are still working in other safe parts of the mine," he added.

Polish television said 15 people were badly injured in the blast. Twenty-nine men managed to get to the surface by their own efforts after the incident.

Interior Minister Grzegorz Schetyna and a deputy economy minister travelled to the area to meet families of the victims.

The Wujek-Slask mine is located near the industrial city of Katowice in the coal-belt region of southern Poland.

"I was 650 metres below ground when the accident occurred, but I didn't hear anything," miner Tomasz Zawadzki told Polish television. "We've lost our colleagues. But this is our reality, that's how it is - we will have to come back to work in coming days."

Accidents are not uncommon in Polish coal mines. Friday's incident was the worst of its kind in Poland since a methane explosion in the same region in 2006 that killed more than 20 men.