Oranovo coalmine rescue attempt completes bypass tunnel

Rescue operations to reach two miners at Bulgaria’s Oranovo coalmine, who were trapped in a collapse on July 16, drew closer to their goal by completing a bypass tunnel to the gallery where it was believed the miners were trapped, Bulgarian National Television (BNT) reported on July 31.

The initial attempt to clear through the collapse had to be abandoned on July 24 as rescuers feared a second landslide. Instead, a parallel tunnel has been dug over the past week, which now reached the mine’s “gallery A”.

The rescuers found a lot of mud, which was now being cleared at the same time as the passage walls were being reinforced, BNT said. The mine passage was about 10 metres long and it was hoped that the two miners were at the gallery’s other end.

Reports last week said that the two miners had been carrying water and that there was a ventilation system close to where the miners were trapped and so it was possible that they could have access to air.

Two other miners were killed in the mining accident on July 16. An investigation into conditions at the mine, which has seen a number of serious accidents in recent years, was ordered by the Economy and Energy Ministry.

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/sxc.hu) 



The Sofia Globe staff

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