At least six miners died in an explosion in a mine in Handlova, central Slovakia, and 14 others have almost certainly perished, the country’s economy minister told reporters.
“Rescuers found six bodies, but the conditions in the mine are such that no one can survive,” Lubomir Jahnatek said.
The other 14 miners, trapped underground for more than 10 hours, were also probably dead, he added.
“The rescuers found six bodies 65 metres from the epicentre of the explosion. They couldn’t get any further as the conditions in the mine do not support life,” Jahnatek said.
“All victims probably died at the moment of explosion,” he added.
“It’s an immense tragedy,” Prime Minister Robert Fico said at the site of accident late yesterday.
“The government will meet tomorrow to declare a period of national mourning,” he added.
The explosion occurred at about 9:30 am (1300 IST) as the miners were putting out a fire in the mine some 330 meters underground.