A mine explosion Saturday in southwest Romania killed at least five miners and injured five more. Two people were missing, authorities said. The explosion occurred at 5:30 a.m. (0330 GMT) at the state-owned coal mine in Anina, police in the area said in a statement. Three of the injured miners are in good condition and have been released from the hospital, while the other two are reported to be in stable condition suffering from burns, the statement said.
It added that the explosion was caused by a leak of methane gas into the mine shaft. About 70 miners were down the shaft at the time of the explosion, which was about 30 minutes before the shift change, authorities said. The mine was sealed off after the accident and rescue workers were searching for two miners who could not be accounted for.
Economy Minister Codrut Seres said the injured miners would be transported to a hospital in the southwest city of Timisoara. He said he would travel immediately to the mine. Seres, interviewed on news channel Realitatea TV, denied there was a link between the explosion and plans to downsize the mine.
The coal mine, located some 400 kilometers (250 miles) west of Bucharest, employs 544 miners and is more than 1,000 meters (3,300 feet) deep, making it one of the deepest mines in the region. Last year, five miners died in Romania in mine accidents, reports the AP. N.U.