Twenty dead in Slovakia mine blast

Miners killed in explosion in town of Handlova in country's worst-ever mining disaster.

      Many residents in Handlova are either related to or know somebody who works in the coal mine [EPA]

    Black flag

    Small groups of mourners stood in the rain in front of Handlova town hall where the Slovak national flag and a black flag of mourning hung at half mast.

    "This tragedy can't be compared to any other in Slovakia's industrial sector," said Rudolf Podoba, the town's mayor.

    "Now the top priority is to get the bodies of our late friends out of the mine and say farewell to them," said Podoba, who also spent most of his life underground as a miner.

    "The fact that I'm now the mayor of the town doesn't mean anything, my heart beats for mining," said the fourth-generation miner.

    Handlova is located 190km from Bratislava, the capital, and many residents are either related to, or know somebody, who works in the lignite or brown coal mine.

    "Our son works in the mine, he was supposed to be there yesterday but he took a last-minute day off," said Ladislav Petrik.

    Fire tackled

    The explosion occurred at about 9:30 am [0730 GMT] on  Monday as the miners were putting out a fire about 330m underground.

    Nine miners who escaped the blast with minor injuries were treated in a hospital and later released.

    With a workforce of 4,100, Hornonitrianske Banke Prievidza is Slovakia's top brown coal producer, supplying fuel to the nearby Novaky heating plant.

    The mine produces about 2.2 million tonnes of lignite per year and has plans to open new mines in the region after the discovery of deposits of approximately 7.2 million tonnes.

    SOURCE: Agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    How different voting systems work around the world

    How different voting systems work around the world

    Nearly two billion voters in 52 countries around the world will head to the polls this year to elect their leaders.

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    Russian-Saudi relations could be very different today, if Stalin hadn't killed the Soviet ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

    The peace games: Dreaming big for South Sudan's youth

    The peace games: Dreaming big for South Sudan's youth

    A relatively new independence and fresh waves of conflict inspire a South Sudanese refugee to build antiwar video games.