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Death toll rises to 13 in Poland mine accidents; 11 missing

An airborne ambulance waiting for some of the 10 rescuers injured by new methane explosions at the Pniowek coal mine while seeking for seven people missing after initial blasts there the day before, in Pawlowice, in southern Poland, Thursday night, April 21, 2022. Following Thursday explosions the search for those missing was suspended doe to the danger of more blasts in the area. (AP Photo)

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — The death toll from two coal mine accidents last week in southern Poland has risen to 13 after another injured miner died Tuesday, a doctor said.

The miner died at the Siemianowice Slaskie hospital, which specializes in treating burns, where 20 other coal mine workers were still being treated for injuries from methane gas blasts, Dr. Przemyslaw Strzelec said.

The man’s death means that seven miners and rescuers were killed by repeated blasts Wednesday and Thursday at the Pniowek mine, near the Czech border.

The search for seven others who remain missing was suspended after Thursday’s blasts hurt 10 rescuers.

In the nearby Borynia-Zofiowka mine, 13 teams of rescuers are searching for four miners gone missing after a tremor and methane gas discharge on Saturday. Six miners died in that accident.

Prosecutors have opened investigations into the accidents. The mines are operated by the Jastrzebska Spolka Weglowa, JSW.

Most Polish coal mines are in the southern Silesia region and many have a high presence of methane in the rock.

Some 70% of Poland’s energy comes from coal, a proportion that has been sharply criticized by the European Union and environmental groups who are concerned about CO2 emissions and meeting climate change goals.

Poland has been trying to scale down its use of coal. Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki recently said Poland has stopped coal imports from Russia and its ally Belarus in response to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

For years Poland has been reducing its dependence on Russian energy sources that was built in communist-era times before 1990, when Poland was Russia’s satellite.

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