Three miners were caught underground following a mining gallery collapse Thursday afternoon at Lupeni mine in Jiu Valley, with several rescue crews being called to the site. Two have been eventually saved after 12 hours, while a third one died. The two saved miners wer conscious, but one of them is in serious condition and was transported to Floreasca Hospital in Bucharest.
After the collapse, 11 out the 14 miners managed to get out.
Sources with the Energy Ministry say the rescuers have heard voices underground, meaning that the three trapped in the gallery could be alive. “The rescuers have informed that voices are being heard, this makes us optimistic they are alive,” the representatives said.
The Prefect of Hunedoara County, Fabius Kiszely, said that the Operational Group of technical support has been activated at county level and that the rescue crews are at the site.
“Crumbling occurred underground at Lupeni mine. Information say three miners do not reply,” the Prefect said for Antena 3 TV. He added that the gallery collapsed for about 10 metres and it is hard to estimate the duration of the rescue interventions. The labour inspectorate has been informed and an investigation on the working conditions at Lupeni mine will be opened.
On the other hand, ‘Muntele’ trade union leader, Darius Campean, says the collapse has caught three miners who were trying to move equipment.
The accident took place Thursday afternoon.
In this context, sources say that Prime Minister Mihai Tudose has asked the Minister of Energy, Toma Petcu, to go to Hunedoara.
Petcu said works were ongoing to set some support poles underground, when the collapse took place. After the collapse, 11 out the 14 miners managed to get out, three of them are still missing in the gallery. “We don’t know what the situation is. We have urgently summoned the rescue team and it has descended into the mine. Searches are ongoing and we are confident of good results,” the Energy Minister said.
Toma Petcu said that, following PM Mihai Tudose’s request, he will immediately leave for Lupeni by helicopter.
In Jiului Valley only four coalmines are operational – Lupeni, Lonea, Livezeni and Vulcan, part of the Hunedoara Energy Complex along with Mintia and Paroseni thermal-plants.
Lupeni Mine has been included on the list of mining exploitations to be closed down, along with Lonea Mine, considered as non-viable.
In May 2017, State Secretary with the Energy Ministry, Doru Visan, said the coal exploitation from Lupeni and Lonea will go on until 2018 and the works on closing down the mines will be completed by 2027, according to the maximum deadlines from the European Commission.