Polish rescuers bring workers out of collapsed mine

POLKOWICE, Poland (REUTERS) - Polish rescue workers tunnelled through collapsed rock to reach 19 workers trapped in a mine shaft and are now bringing them to the surface, a spokesman for the company operating the mine said.

The miners had become trapped about 600m underground at the Rudna copper mine in southern Poland, after a localised earth tremor late on Tuesday night caused a cave-in.

Mr Dariusz Wyborski, a spokesman for mine operator KGHM told reporters at the mine, near the settlement of Polkowice, that all 19 miners were alive.

"Rescuers managed to dig a hole through which the miners are coming out one by one," said Mr Wyborski. "It's hard to say what shape they are in. Right now medical check-ups are underway."

The mine is about 400km south-west of the Polish capital. Officials with KGHM had previously said there were 18 miners trapped in the pit.

After the quake happened on Tuesday, workers on the surface lost contact for several hours with the trapped miners because communication lines into the shafts had been severed.

The mine is in the Silesia region, near Poland's borders with Germany and the Czech Republic. It has been in operation since 1974. The operator, state-controlled KGHM, is Europe's second-biggest copper producer.

Poland has large numbers of mines, mostly in the heavily industrialised Silesia region. In 2006, a gas explosion at a coal mine in the region killed 23 miners.

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