Eight dead in Serbia coal mine accident

(Photo: AFP)
At least eight miners suffocated to death and around 20 others were injured after being exposed to methane during an accident at a coal mine in Serbia on Friday, officials said.اضافة اعلان

Mining minister Zorana Mihajlovic said the early morning accident near the southern town of Aleksinac was linked to an unexplained exposure to methane, despite initial reports saying that an explosion caused a mine shaft to collapse.

"There was no explosion. The increased concentration of methane was the cause... the miners suffocated," Mihajlovic told reporters while visiting the site.

Goran Vidic, who oversees the hospital in Aleksinac, told Serbia's public broadcaster RTS that 19 miners had been admitted to hospital -- three of them in a serious condition.

Two miners were also being treated in the nearby city of Nis, RTS reported. 

At least 49 miners were believed to have been working in the mine at the time the accident, but all have been accounted for. 

Investigators were combing the scene of the accident.

Serbia's President Aleksandar Vucic sent a message of condolence to the families of the victims, promising the authorities' help. 

Miners have "one of the hardest professions in the world, which has always required people of a special kind," said Vucic.

Serbia's energy sector is heavily reliant on coal. 

The Aleksinac mining basin has been the scene of similar tragedies in the past.

In November 1989, 91 miners were killed following a fire caused by human error. In 1983, 35 were killed in a methane blast. 

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