16 bodies found after coal mine blast in Slovakia

Last Updated: Wednesday, August 12, 2009 - 11:15

Bratislava: 16 bodies have been recovered from a Slovak coal mine following a fire and
explosion, and four other people are also believed to have died, authorities said.

Economy Minister Lubomir Jahnatek said rescue workers
initially found six bodies in the Handlova mine in central
Slovakia. Mine director Peter Cicmanec said a further three
bodies were later found as rescue units, engineers and medics
battled high temperatures to reach the scene yesterday and
state and mine authorities announced later in the day 16
bodies have already been recovered.

Jahnatek said it was unlikely any of the 20 people
missing in the mine survived.

"It`s a huge tragedy,`` said Prime Minister Robert Fico.

After an emergency session of his government yesterday,
Fico said today would be an official day of mourning. He said
the government was planning to compensate relatives of the

The explosion, caused by gases released in the fire,
occurred in an old shaft about 330 meters (1,100 feet) below
the surface.

The trapped workers were nine miners who were initially
sent to battle the blaze and 11 sent as reinforcements as the
fire grew. Mine managers said they lost all contact with the
20 men after the blast.

Jahnatek said they were all likely killed immediately.

Bureau Report

First Published: Wednesday, August 12, 2009 - 11:15
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