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Search for seven missing after mine blasts in Poland still stalled

WARSAW, POLAND (AP) – Emergency crews in southern Poland worked yesterday to create underground conditions that would allow a search to resume for seven miners and rescue personnel who were missing after methane explosions in a coal mine killed five people.

The JSW company, which operates the Pniowek mine, said crews were building ventilation systems and pumping air into the search areas to lower the methane levels and the danger of further blasts.

The company said 25 people who were injured in the explosions remain hospitalised, nine of them in very serious condition at a hospital in Siemianowice Slaskie that specialises in treating mine accident victims, especially those with severe burns. The first blast took place shortly after midnight on Wednesday about 1,000 metres underground at the mine in Pawlowice, near the Czech border.

Three hours into the rescue operation, a larger, second blast occurred. Communications were lost with some of the rescuers, and the operation was suspended.

Members of 13 rescue teams waited yesterday to resume the search for the five rescuers and two miners were missing.

Poland relies on its own and imported coal for almost 70 per cent of its energy, drawing criticism from the European Union and environmental organisations concerned about CO2 emissions and climate change.

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