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3 miners dead, 5 missing after copper mine tremor in Poland

WARSAW, Poland — The director of a Polish copper mine hit by a tremor and a cave-in said Wednesday that the death of a third miner has been confirmed while five others remain missing.

Pawel Markowski said that a doctor confirmed the death of a miner that the rescuers reached Wednesday morning. He said the rescuers can also see another of the missing miners but have no contact with him and do not know what condition he is in. He is under a massive rock that the rescuers will need to lift or crush.

Prime Minister Beata Szydlo was to come to the mine later Wednesday, officials said.

The tremor occurred shortly after 9 p.m. Tuesday some 1,100 metres (3,610 feet) underground in the Rudna mine, in Polkowice, in the southwest. The German Research Center for Geosciences in Potsdam, near Berlin, reported a magnitude-4.5 shallow earthquake in the region at the time of the cave-in.

Jolanta Piatek, spokeswoman for the KGHM Polska Miedz, or Polish Copper, mining corporation, said that the body of the second fatality was also found underground. Earlier, one of nine miners brought to the surface shortly after the cave-in had also died. Five others have been hospitalized but their lives are not in danger. Nine rescue teams continue the search for those still missing. The cave-in was in the heavy machinery area.

The rescuers are receiving signals from the locators of the missing miners, but have had no direct contact with them, Piatek told The Associated Press.

Work continues as usual in other areas of the mine, Piatek said.

In 2013, 19 miners trapped in the Rudna mine following a local tremor and cave-in were rescued with no major injuries.

Known as the Polish State Mining and Metallurgical Combine under communism, KGHM went through restructuring and partial privatization in 1991 as Poland shifted to a market economy. It has grown to be one of the world's major copper and silver producers. It also has mines in Chile, Canada and the United States.


David Rising in Berlin contributed to this report.

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