18 workers trapped in Polish mine

Eighteen workers have been trapped underground at Polish mine, after an earthquake.

A mining company KGHM has announced that 18 of its workers have been trapped underground after an earthquake caused a cave-in. Picture: AFP.

KRAKOW - Eighteen miners are trapped underground in a Polish copper mine after an earthquake caused a cave-in, mine operator KGHM said.

"The newest information is that 18 miners are trapped, four people have walked out earlier on their own," KGHM said in a statement after earlier news mentioned 17 workers trapped.

The miners are trapped 600 metres below ground at the Rudna mine, about 400 km southwest of the Polish capital.

There has been no contact with them for several hours, KGHM spokesman Dariusz Wyborski said.

"There was a quake in the Rudna mine," Wyborski said.

"The rescue operation is difficult because huge amounts of rocks have to be removed."

There was no contact with the trapped miners because the tremor cut communication lines, the company said.

The mine is in the Silesia region, near Poland's borders with Germany and the Czech Republic. It has been in operation since 1974.

The operator, state-controlled KGHM, is Europe's second-biggest copper producer.

Poland has large numbers of mines, mostly in the heavily industrialised Silesia region.

In 2006, a gas explosion at a coal mine in the region killed 23 miners.