Rescuers have been working to free 34 miners trapped underground in a coal mine in central Bosnia, officials said Friday. The incident took place after two tunnels in the mine collapsed after a gas explosion triggered by a small earthquake in the region Thursday evening.
Officials reportedly said that all the miners, trapped more than 1,600 feet below the surface, are alive and have enough air. Mehmed Oruc, a union leader at the Zenica coal mine, reportedly said that rescuers have another 65 feet more to dig before they can reach the trapped men, and added that the miners will come out soon, The Associated Press reported.
"The rescuers are deploying superhuman efforts to save their comrades. We have just spoken with them. They confirmed they are all together and doing well," regional Prime Minister Nermin Niksic said, Deutsche Welle, a German news agency reported.
The gas explosion in the mine reportedly occurred after a 3.5 magnitude earthquake struck near the town of Zenica, located about 42 miles northwest of Sarajevo, the capital and largest city of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
"Of 56 miners that were in the mine, 22 made it back to the surface and 34 are still in the affected zone," Esad Civic, manager of the mine, reportedly said. "We are communicating with them. They are doing well and have enough clean air to wait for the arrival of rescue teams."
Authorities also reportedly said that two miners were injured in the gas blast and have been taken to a nearby hospital, and no other major damage was reported from the earthquake.
In 1982, 39 miners were reportedly killed at the Zenica coal mine from a gas explosion, making it one of the worst mining accidents in the history of the Bosnia.