Hurdle Emerges on Day 7 of Bulgarian Coal Mine Rescue Effort

Society | July 22, 2013, Monday // 09:41|  views

The Oranovo coal mine is located 2 km away from the town of Simitli in southwestern Bulgaria. Photo by BGNES

The rescue teams searching for the 7th day in a row for two trapped miners in southwestern Bulgaria have encountered a new hurdle overnight.

They have reached the area of the mud mass collapse, where the situation is more complex, says Valeri Manov, manager of the Oranovo coal mine near the town of Simitli, speaking for bTV Monday morning.

The propping of the gallery there is highly damaged and must be fixed before the rescue teams can continue forward.

This is the first encounter of the team with such damaged gallery wall reinforcement. Manov says it has been done according to requirements, but the collapse had been stronger.

He declined commenting on reports about breaches of work safety requirements, calling on media and people "to stop talking for a while and let the rescuers do their jobs."

Two miners died after a collapse at the mine last Tuesday. Two others remain trapped inside as the rescue effort continues for the 6th day in row and there is no sign it is getting close to an end.

This is the fourth major accident in the Oranovo mine in the past eight years. Union leaders said the reason for the collapse was poor safety standards.

Miners and their families are keeping silent about the work conditions, which many see as fear of losing their jobs.

The Mayor of Simitli, Apostol Apostolov, announced Sunday that miners in the Oranovo coal mine make the lowest wages in the entire municipality.

According to him, the majority earn the meager BGN 300-400 a month.

The mine's concessionaire, Krasimir Mihaylov, was interrogated Friday in the 2nd Police Precinct in Blagoevgrad where he turned himself in hours after the Prosecutor's Office issued a search warrant for him.

Meanwhile, several Bulgarian media published pictures of Mihaylov's son Krassen leading a lavish life in London and Saint Tropez. The pictures have been leaked anonymously and their authenticity is not yet confirmed.

Economy and Energy Minister Dragomir Stoynev vowed on several occasions to bring to justice those guilty for the deadly accident.

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Tags: mayor, Apostol Apostolov, Prime Minister, Plamen Oresharski, wages, Oranovo, coal, mine, Simitli, collapse, trapped, Dragomir Stoynev, Economy and Energy Minister, concessionaire, rescue, Krasimir Mihaylov

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