Efforts to rescue several miners trapped underground after a push in a coal mine in southern Poland will “continue to the end,” the Polish President said on Sunday.
Andrzej Duda was speaking in the southern town of Jastrzębie-Zdrój as dozens of rescuers scrambled to reach four miners stuck some 900 metres underground at the local Zofiówka coal mine.
“We all believe that the miners will survive and that they will be found alive,” Duda said.
He added: “We pray for those who are down there, for those who have not yet been found, and we also pray for the rescuers.”
Several teams of emergency workers pressed ahead with the rescue operation, braving high temperatures, a lack of oxygen and high levels of methane in the mine.
“There is a very high concentration of methane and the rescuers are wearing breathing apparatus,” the president told reporters, adding that the harsh conditions decreased the odds of the four men still being alive.
Earlier in the day rescuers managed to bring back to the surface an unconscious man who, however, was subsequently declared dead by a doctor.
About 250 miners were underground when the quake hit the mine on Saturday.
Two missing miners have since been found alive. They sustained non-life threatening injuries and were undergoing treatment in a local hospital, along with two colleagues who had managed to make their way out of the mine unaided.
Duda visited all four men in the hospital later on Sunday, according to public broadcaster Polish Radio’s IAR news agency.
After the visit the president told reporters that the miners were battered and bruised but otherwise in good condition.
Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki visited the survivors on Saturday evening.
The quake – which measured 3.4 on the Richter scale, according to Poland’s State Mining Authority – occurred at around 11 am on Saturday and was also felt on the surface in areas far from the mine, according to reports.