Man Dies from Heart Attack in Collapsed Bulgarian Mine
A worker has suffered heart attack and has passed away inside the collapsed Oranovo mine in southwestern Bulgaria.
The man, identified as Asen Grancharov, 49, was a miner, who was not part of the search team, but of the auxiliary staff. The incident happened shortly after 7 am Thursday. Bulgarian police and the emergency medical unit received the call around 7:30 am.
The body has been taken outside at 8:20 am.
Grancharov is from the southwestern city of Blagoevgrad. His brother has been notified. His wife, according to bTV, works in the central town of Karlovo.
The Chief of the Regional Directorate of the Interior Ministry in Blagoevgrad, Police Commissar Georgi Kostov, is at the scene, along with the mine's manager, Valeri Manov, the head of Blagoevgrad work safety office, investigators and police officers.
Ambulances and vehicles of Civil Defense were dispatched there as well, but have established the cause of death and left.
Manov confirmed for the media that this was not a work related incident and the man fell ill and died, most likely, from a heart attack.
An autopsy is pending, according to Kostov.
The search effort to find two miners trapped inside since July 16, when the mine collapsed, is continuing for the 17th consecutive day.
The search team was able to advance by 2.5 meters over the last 24 hours, digging in the mud and rock in the gallery where the two are presumed to be.
On Wednesday, 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 were trapped over 2 weeks ago, is filled with mud and is inaccessible.
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, says 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 include 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.
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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