Search Team Reaches Gallery with Trapped Bulgarian Miners

Society | July 31, 2013, Wednesday // 08:53
Search Team Reaches Gallery with Trapped Bulgarian Miners: Search Team Reaches Gallery with Trapped Bulgarian Miners On day 16 of the rescue and search effort the teams reached the gallery where two Bulgarian miners are trapped, but there is no longer hope they will be found alive. Photo by BGNES

The search team has reached the gallery where two Bulgarian miners have been trapped since July 16 at 4 am Wednesday morning.

At that time, the miners and the rescue team from the Bobovdol mine ended excavating the 33-meter-long detour gallery, only to find out that gallery A where their colleagues are believed to be is filled with mud and is inaccessible.

The manager of the Oranovo coal mine near the town of Simitli in southwestern Bulgaria, Valeri Manov, said the day shift will secure the opening where the two galleries connect and will then start to enlarge it and clean gallery A.

"We can find them at any moment now," said he.

Manov entered the mine around 6:30 am. No one else from the management or from the miners was willing to talk to media reporters gathered there in expectation of news from the overnight effort.

The rescue effort was downgraded to search last Friday.

After the mine collapsed on July 16, miners Ivan Lazarov, 35, and Nikolay Mihaylov, 42, were trapped 450 meters below the surface underneath an avalanche of mud, rocks and water.

Blagoevgrad Regional Governor, Musa Palev, said the situation is the most difficult for their close ones, adding the municipality was ready to offer any kind of assistance, including meetings with psychology therapists.

Both are neighbors from the nearby village of Krupnik. Nikolay only has one sister, while Ivan has a mother and a brother who works as a firefighter.

Two other miners, Asen Stoynev, 41, and Hristo Mladenov, 45, died in the collapse.

The rescue and search teams included 20 people, working in three shifts.

The excavation of the detour gallery started one week ago, after the crisis headquarters, and the expert group formed under the order of Economy and Energy Minister, Dragomir Stoynev, decided to use a bypass route.

This was imposed by emerging serious risks for the rescue teams over mudslides and water leaks in the collapsed gallery.

The detour gallery was 33-meter long.

All works in the mine were put on hold, and all effort was focused on finding the two people trapped inside.

Locals are flocking to churches to light candles and pray for the lives of Mladenov and Lazarov.

Stoynev has vowed on several occasions to bring to justice those guilty for the deadly accident.

The Minister noted the government will reexamine not only the Oranovo concession, but all others.

This is the fourth major accident in the Oranovo mine in the past eight years. Union leaders said the reason for the collapse was poor safety standards.

Miners and their families are keeping silent about the work conditions, which many see as fear of losing their jobs.

The Mayor of Simitli, Apostol Apostolov, insists miners in the Oranovo coal mine make the lowest wages in the entire municipality.

According to him, the majority earn the meager BGN 300-400 a month.

The mine's concessionaire, Krasimir Mihaylov, was interrogated on July 19 in the 2nd Police Precinct in Blagoevgrad where he turned himself in hours after the Prosecutor's Office issued a search warrant for him.

Meanwhile, several Bulgarian media published pictures of the mine's concessionaire, Krasimir Mihaylov's son Krassen leading a lavish life in London and Saint Tropez. A new one of Krassen's Lamborghini Aventador, recently purchased by the father for BGN 800 000, was added Monday.

The pictures have been leaked anonymously and their authenticity is not yet confirmed.

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Tags: Krasimir Mihaylov, rescue, concessionaire, Economy and Energy Minister, Dragomir Stoynev, trapped, collapse, Simitli, mine, coal, Oranovo, search, Valeri Manov
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