Mining rescuers found the body of the last miner sought in the Pniówek mine after last year’s disaster, Jastrzębska Spółka Węglowa, which owns the mine, announced on Saturday. This means the end of the search operation. Rescuers will still seal off the endangered area.
The search operation was resumed on Friday evening after being interrupted over a month ago due to difficult underground conditions. To reach the searched miner and combine harvester, it was necessary to excavate a new tunnel several dozen meters long.
– The prospector’s operation in the Pniówek mine has ended. Rescuers found the last of the seven miners missing during the disaster in April 2022. The injured person was found in the N-6 longwall near the longwall shearer – JSW spokesman Tomasz Siemieniec said on Saturday afternoon.
– The miner’s body was transported to the surface and taken to the Forensic Medicine Institute in Katowice. To reach the injured miner, rescuers had to break through to the N-6 longwall from the newly excavated section N-6a, secure the intersection, ventilate the excavation and dismantle elements of the longwall support, Siemieniec explained.
Disaster in the Pniówek mine
On April 20, 2022, as a result of a series of methane explosions 16 miners and mine rescuers who rushed to help the injured after the first explosion lost their lives in the Pniówek mine. Seven of them remained behind the dams, which separated the fire area from the remaining workings after the disaster. To reach the missing people, it was necessary to excavate a new, almost 350-meter long gallery, parallel to the dammed mining wall. The work lasted several months.
On September 9-13 this year. rescuers penetrated the disaster area and began searching it. On September 11, they found the bodies of five missing people – members of the rescue team who helped the injured after the first explosion. 13th of September the sixth missing person has been found – longwall miner.
After penetrating 185 meters of the N-6 wall, rescuers failed to find the last missing miner. With each meter of progress, rescuers worked in increasingly difficult conditions. The last miner sought was located near the longwall shearer at the end of the approximately 200-meter long wall.
An investigation is underway
The body found on Saturday, like those of five mine rescuers and a longwall miner found in September, was transported to the forensic medicine facility for an autopsy. The process of identifying the found people has also begun – DNA tests were ordered for this purpose. Histopathological and toxicological tests were ordered to determine the exact mechanism and cause of death of the disaster victims.
The prosecutor’s investigation was initiated shortly after the disaster and is being conducted under Art. 163 and 220 of the Penal Code. According to the classification adopted when initiating the investigation, it is about unintentionally causing an event that threatened the life or health of many people or property on a large scale in the form of an explosion, which resulted in death.
Article 220 of the Penal Code mentions failure to fulfill occupational health and safety obligations and thus exposing employees to direct danger of loss of life or serious damage to health. The prosecutor’s office has not yet answered the question whether anyone has been charged in this case.
Main photo source: JSW/Dawid Lach