20 Sep 2009

State mourning in Poland for miners

7:01 am on 20 September 2009

Poland has announced two days of national mourning after 13 miners died in a gas explosion at a mine in the southern Silesian region on Friday.

From 0600 on Monday, flags will fly at half-mast. Many sporting and cultural events will be cancelled.

The miners were 1050 metres underground at the Wujek-Slask mine when the explosion occurred.

The BBC reports the latest victim is a man, 22, who died of his burns on Saturday.

Officials say 30 men were transferred to hospital at the time. Several have severe burns.

The explosion is thought to have been caused by the ignition of a pocket of methane gas.

On Friday, the mine's chief engineer, Andrzej Bielecki, told Polish television channel TVP INFO that around 40 miners were underground in the area at the time of the blast.

The BBC reports the explosion was the worst mining accident in Poland since a methane gas explosion killed 23 at another mine in Silesia three years ago.