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Rescue workers at KWK Pniówek return for the last missing miner

Today at 6 p.m. in the Pniówek mine, the next stage of the search for the last of the 7 miners missing in the 20 April 2022 disaster will begin.

photo: Dawid Lach

The rescue operation will start with work to connect the newly excavated cross-cut (N-6a) to the N-6 longwall at the location where the missing miner is believed to be. 

The new N-6a cross-cut, which was excavated from the N-9 ramp towards the N-6 longwall, is nearly 43 meters long. To connect to the longwall, rescue workers must excavate 5 more meters, then they will construct the crossing of the working and the longwall to safely begin ventilation and then penetration of the working.

At the beginning of the operation the penetration may be difficult, as mine management expects an inundated area in the longwall, which may be about 15 meters long.

If the depth of the water does not allow the operation to proceed safely, rescue workers will start to pump it out. Once the water table has reached a safe level, rescue workers will return to the search for the missing miner.

The operation management assumes that on each shift, up to 7 rescue teams from JSW mines and the Central Mining Rescue Station (CSRG) in Bytom will take part in the operation.

 

 


During the rescue operation conducted from 9 to 13 September 2023, the bodies of 6 missing miners were found. After penetrating 185 meters of the N-6 longwall, rescue workers failed to find the last missing miner. Rescue workers were working in increasingly difficult temperature conditions with each meter of progress. The operation manager, after consulting with the extended operation management team, decided to abort the rescue operation due to the safety of the rescue workers.

The mine's management has returned to the second planned solution in the operation plan, i.e. to seal off the longwall area and make a cross-cut (N-6a) from the N-9 ramp directly to the N-6 longwall to the place where the missing miner is likely to be. 

 


The Pniówek mine disaster occurred on 20 April 2022 in longwall N-6, seam 404/4+405/1, 1,000 meters underground, where a quarter past midnight a methane explosion occurred. There were 42 workers in the danger zone. During the operation, 39 workers managed to be evacuated. After 3:00 a.m., a second methane explosion occurred. Seven workers, including a rescue squad, remained in the affected area. A day later, there was another methane explosion. The manager of the rescue operation decided to temporarily seal off the N-6 longwall area, seam 404/4+405/1, with isolation stoppings. The operation was discontinued on 2 May. Of the 10 miners who were taken to the Burn Treatment Center in Siemianowice Śląskie, 5 were in serious condition. In the following days, 5 of the hospitalized miners died. In all, 9 miners lost their lives as a result of the methane explosions, and 7 were then declared missing. 30 people were injured.

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