Thursday, November 23, 2006

Poland: It's Over

While the U.S. celebrates its national day of thanksgiving, Poland has announced a national day of mourning for 23 coal miners killed Tuesday in an explosion, in fact three days according to Reuters:

...President Lech Kaczynski, who visited the coal mine during the rescue operations, said three days of national mourning would start immediately...

"We went looking for our living colleagues, who worked here with us, but from the start our hope of rescuing anyone alive were almost non-existent," rescue team leader Jan Gaura told reporters and families of the dead gathered outside the pit.

"With an explosion like this of methane I don't think they had a chance," he said, his voice breaking, rain drizzling down his dust-blackened shirt...

Kaczynski told reporters there would be a public inquiry into the cause of the disaster and said there were signs some of the miners were inexperienced and insufficiently qualified.

The spokesman for Polish state coal company Kompania Weglowa, Zbigniew Madej, said the bodies of all 23 had been found. "Everything suggests they died at the moment of the explosion," he said.

...Doctors and psychologists helped the waiting families into cars to be driven home. Michal Swierszcz, one of a team of doctors caring for the bereaved, said it would take relatives a long time to appreciate fully the scale of their loss.

"The real pain will come only in a few days time when they realize their homes are bare, that their father, brother, husband is gone, that the family is no longer whole," Swierszcz told Reuters...

I hope that the other mine employees and the rescue workers also get some help.

More details from Bloomberg:

...The final body was found at 6:30 a.m. local time, TVN 24 reported, citing unnamed rescuers.

The accident more than doubled the number of casualties in Polish mines, which have claimed 46 lives this year, up from 21 a year ago, according to data from the country's Mining Office.

Polish mines employ more people than any other industry in the country, and the number of fatal accidents is increasing. Mine operators, mainly controlled by the state, have been strapped for investment since the fall of communism in 1989 and last year thousands of miners marched in protests against planned job cuts.

...The temperature at the blast site was about 1,500 degrees after the explosion.


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