In Brief

Czech coal mine explosion kills 13

Further ten people injured in methane blast at state-owned facility

At least 11 Polish nationals and two Czechs have been killed in a major explosion at a state-owned coal mine in the Czech Republic, according to reports.

The methane blast occurred at around 5pm local time on Thursday at the CSM hard coal mine near the eastern city of Karvina, on the Czech-Polish border. A further ten miners were injured in the explosion, which reportedly took place more than 800 metres (2,600ft) below ground level.

Two of the injured are in hospital in the nearby city of Ostrava, with one in critical condition.

The BBC says the Polish miners had been provided by an agency to work at the mine, owned by state-owned firm OKD.

The mining company’s managing director, Boleslav Kowalczyk, said rescuers had been forced to abandon a search of the scene, owing to conditions in the shaft.

“Unfortunately, we have reached a point where it was impossible to move forward, because there was a fire raging and zero visibility,” he said.

The incident is “the worst mining accident in the Czech Republic since 1990”, when 30 miners died in a fire at another mine close to Karvina, Reuters reports.

Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis is visiting the CSM mine on Friday with his Polish counterpart, Mateusz Morawiecki.

In a tweet, Babis called the deadly blast “a tremendous tragedy”.

Morawiecki has also offered his condolences. “I wish to express words of deepest sympathy to all the close victims of the mining disaster in Karvina,” the Polish PM said. “This is a huge tragedy for all Poles and Czechs. On this difficult day, we strongly show our solidarity and sense of national community.”

Polish President Andrzej Duda also tweeted a message mourning the deaths, writing: “Oh Lord, keep the families of the miners in your care. RIP.”

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