Five coal miners die in Bosnia after quake causes mine collapse

Bosnian coal miners trapped alive after earthquake

Striking Bosnian miners breaking their fast. (Image from archives)

Rescuers at Zenica coal mine in central Bosnia freed Friday 29 of the 34 miners trapped underground after a gas explosion that followed a 3.5 magnitude earthquake, which cause the walls to collapse.

Officials halted rescue efforts, believing that five men who remained deep below ground were dead.

Relief among people waiting outside turned to anguish when it became clear that not all 34 men had survived.

Twenty-two other miners managed to leave the pit before it collapsed Thursday evening, AP reports.

Even before news of the deaths emerged, unions and families of the trapped miners claimed management understated the scale of the problem and moved “too slowly” to rescue the men.

Zenica was the site of one of the greatest mining tragedies in Bosnia’s history, when 39 miners were killed in a gas explosion in 1982.