Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Polish police arrest foreman after mine blast which killed 23

Police on Tuesday arrested the foreman of a coal mine in southern Poland where 23 miners were killed in a methane blast in November, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors charged the man, identified only as Stanislaw B., with endangering the lives and health of those working in the Halemba coal mine, said Michal Szulczynski, spokesman for Gliwica prosecutors.

The man worked for Mard, a firm that employed 15 of the 23 miners who died more than 1,000 meters (3,000 feet) below ground after a methane gas explosion on Nov 21.

He faces up to eight years in prison if convicted, Szulczynski said.

The miners were attempting to retrieve €17 million (US$23 million) worth of equipment from a shaft that was closed in March because of dangerously high gas concentrations.

The accident was the country's worst mining disaster in nearly three decades.