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article imageGas leak in Spanish mine kills 6, injures 5 (video)

By Anne Sewell     Oct 29, 2013 in World
A gas leak at the Santa Lucía coal mine in Pola de Gordon, northern Spain, killed six miners on Monday and five others were taken to hospital in nearby León. Apparently there was no explosion.
An emergency services spokeswoman told the media that six were killed and five other miners taken to hospital in León, 40 kilometers (25 miles) away on Monday after the methane gas leak occurred.
According to El Pais (in Spanish) four of the injured are doing well and one miner who was more seriously affected is stabilized.
The mayor of Pola de Gordon in Castilla y León, Francisco Castañon, told local television, "There seems to have been a leak of methane gas."
Reportedly the gas leak happened so suddenly, miners did not have a chance to don their protective masks, according to José Antonio Colinas, UGT Trade Union representative of the miners.
Colinas told reporters at the scene, "They really did not have time to react, the atmosphere was invaded by methane."
He said that the fire brigade went in later, but there was less than 1 percent oxygen in the area where the gas leak occurred, so no one can stay there until its completely ventilated.
Family and friends of the miners gathered at the mine's entrance on Monday, waiting for news of their loved ones.
The mine is some 700 meters (2,300 feet) underground and belongs to the Spanish company Hullera Vasco Leonesa.
The coal mining sector in Spain has been cutting back for decades, reducing government mining subsidies to hasten the closure of unprofitable mines. However, about 40 coalmines are still in operation, mainly in the north of the country, employing some 8,000 miners. There have been several protests by coal miners against mine closures and budget cuts recently.
This is the worst accident at a Spanish mine since August 31, 1995, when 14 miners were killed in a methane explosion at a coalmine near Mieres in the northern province of Asturias.
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