5 Killed in Romania Mine Blast

From Associated Press

An explosion hit a mine in southwestern Romania on Saturday, killing at least five miners and injuring five others, authorities said. Two miners were missing.

The explosion occurred at 5:30 a.m. at the state-owned coal mine in Anina when methane gas leaked into the mine shaft, local police said in a statement.

About 70 miners were in the shaft at the time, authorities said. Five miners, ages 27 to 42, were killed. Two miners were hospitalized in stable condition with burns; three others were treated and released, police said.

High gas levels forced rescue crews to suspend the search for the two missing miners.

Economy Minister Ioan-Codrut Seres met Saturday with the mine's managers and relatives of the victims. He said the families of those killed would receive at least eight months' salary as compensation, the Mediafax news agency reported.

The coal mine, about 210 miles west of Bucharest, employs 544 miners. Extending more than 3,300 feet underground, it is one of the deepest in the region.

The mine has been in operation since 1792. Local authorities said about 1,000 miners have died since it opened; the worst accident was an explosion in 1920 that claimed 270 lives.

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