Europe

Five coal miners die in Bosnia after quake rocks mine

Surviving miners leave the Raspotocje coal mine in Zenica, 5 September Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Surviving miners leave the Raspotocje coal mine in Zenica

Rescuers at a coal mine in Bosnia have freed 29 trapped miners but five others were confirmed dead after a gas blast caused by a small earthquake.

The survivors were pulled one by one out of the Raspotocje mine in Zenica after spending the night more than 500m (1,600ft) below ground.

Relief among people waiting outside turned to anguish when it became clear that not all 34 men had survived.

Twenty-two other miners escaped before the pit collapsed on Thursday.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption An injured miner is carried from the Raspotocje coal mine in Zenica
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption A woman is comforted outside the Raspotocje coal mine in Zenica
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Miners stand outside the Raspotocje coal mine in Zenica
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption A miner stands outside the Raspotocje coal mine in Zenica

The 3.5-magnitude quake had struck north-west of the capital Sarajevo.

It was a heart-breaking end to the rescue effort, the BBC's Guy Delauney reports.

People in Zenica who had been following the drama at the mine had been assured that all the miners were alive and well. It was only as the last of the men emerged from that pit that the reality became clear, our correspondent says.

The explosion which triggered the collapse was the third such incident at the facility this year.

Even before news of the deaths emerged, unions and families of the trapped miners had accused management of understating the scale of the problem - and moving too slowly rescue the men.

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