Trapped Canadian miners surface

A group of Canadian miners, trapped by a fire in a potash mine for 24 hours in central Canada, have been brought to the surface.

    A mine official said on Monday the men were brought up after the mine was cleared of fire and smoke.

    Seventy miners had retreated to emergency refuge rooms when the fire broke out at 3am (2100 GMT) on Sunday at the mine in Esterhazy, Saskatchewan.

    It was unclear whether all 70 miners had been brought to the surface or just the first group.

    The mine is owned by Minnesota-based Mosaic Co, and is near the provincial border with Manitoba. The company is due to hold a news conference to discuss the incident.

    A Mosaic official said: "They're up."

    Safety drill

    Miners reported smoke about a kilometre underground on Sunday morning.

    Mine officials had originally lost radio contact with 30 of the miners, but later found them safe in a refuge room.

    The miners had been pinned in several safe rooms as firefighters put out the blaze and then cleared the smoke so the workers could be evacuated.

    Marshall Hamilton, the company spokesman, said a rescue team had reached the refuge rooms, seen the miners and sealed them back in the safe rooms until the fire was extinguished.

    Rescue work

    The fire was put out and rescuers began ventilating the mine, a process made slower by its size, about 30km by 20km.

    Hamilton said the miners were trained to seek safety in the refuge stations built for such incidents.

    "In those refuge stations, the workers can seal themselves in and be safe with enough oxygen, food and water to be comfortable for 36 hours at the least," he said.

    The Canadian mine is the main employer in the small Saskatchewan town. It produces potash, a mineral used in the production of fertilisers.

    SOURCE: Reuters


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