May 9, 2018 / 8:30 AM / 14 days ago

Divers to hunt for three Polish miners trapped underground

WARSAW (Reuters) - Divers were being sent on Wednesday to try to rescue three Polish miners trapped almost a kilometre (half a mile) underground since an earthquake caused a tunnel to collapse four days ago.

Miners walk outside the JSW mine where others are missing underground after a strong quake hit the mine on Saturday in Jastrzebie Zdroj, Poland May 7, 2018. Agencja Gazeta/Dominik Gajda via REUTERS

“We hope that they are there, waiting for our help,” Tomasz Sledz, deputy head of the coal company JSW, told a news conference.

The quake struck the Borynia-Zofiowka-Jastrzebie mine in southern Poland on Saturday morning, trapping seven miners. Two were found dead and two others have been rescued.

JSW Chief Executive Daniel Ozon said the next steps would be to drill a new borehole, pump out water and send in divers from the copper and silver mining firm KGHM.

“These actions take place in extreme conditions. The priority is to free these people, at a minimised risk for the rescuers,” he said, putting faith in the trapped miners’ “knowledge, experience and intuition”.

About 250 people were working underground at the time of the quake. The missing miners were in a team drilling a new tunnel.

The 3.5-4.0 magnitude quake was the strongest recorded in the mine, officials there said.

Around 83,000 people work in Poland’s coal mining sector. Fifteen miners died in 2017, and eight have died so far this year.

A man holds a candle outside the JSW mine where coal miners are missing underground after a strong quake hit the mine on Saturday in Jastrzebie Zdroj, Poland May 7, 2018. Agencja Gazeta/Dominik Gajda via REUTERS

Reporting by Agnieszka Barteczko; Editing by Kevin Liffey

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