Attempt to rescue Bulgarian coalminers at Oranovo continues into seventh day

Rescue operations to reach two miners at Bulgaria’s Oranovo coalmine, where two miners died in an accident on July 16, entered their seventh day on July 22, with hopes fuelled by information that the two missing miners had been carrying water and could have access to an air passage.

The pace of rescue operations quickened on July 21 and more than nine metres of rock were cleared, leaving about 21 metres to the gallery where it was believed the miners were trapped.

According to Bulgarian National Television, there was a ventilation system close to where the miners were trapped and so it was possible that they could have access to air.

The mayor Simitli, Apostol Apostolov, said that it was difficult to say how long it would take to clear the remaining 21 metres. The pace of work had varied according to the state of the damage to the underground shafts.

“We should take off our hats to the miners, who are involved in the rescue actions, working at three shifts. They are constantly there, working disregarding the conditions, and have not stopped helping for the search of the two trapped miners,” Apostolov said.

An investigation into conditions at the mine, which has seen a number of serious accidents in recent years, is expected to produce initial results in the course of this week, the Energy Ministry said.

Reports that serious shortcomings in safety at the mine had been exposed in an official inspection as recently as June have sparked widespread concern and indignation.

The government has said that it will come up with tougher measures to ensure workplace safety at mines and elsewhere and has promised that there will be no cover-up of the conclusions of the Oranovo investigation and that the results will be handed to the media.

(Photo: John Nyberg/



The Sofia Globe staff

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