The three miners were trapped at a depth of 900 metres (2,950 feet) after the collapse of a gallery at a potash mine near Barcelona, rescuers said
Súria (Spain) (AFP) - The fate of three miners trapped deep underground at a potash mine in Spain was unclear Thursday after a tweet by a regional leader confirming their deaths was deleted.
Rescuers said they were trapped “at a depth of about 900 metres” (2,950 feet) after one of the mine’s galleries collapsed just before 9:00 am (0800 GMT) at the mine in Suria some 75 kilometres (46 miles) northwest of Barcelona.
But several hours later, their deaths appeared to be confirmed in a tweet by Catalan regional leader Pere Aragones.
“We deeply regret the death of the three miners in the accident in Suria mine,” he wrote, before the tweet was deleted just minutes later.
Many local and national media outlets said the miners had died, quoting sources among the rescue services.
But the Mossos d’Esquadra regional police said they could only confirm “when they were reached by doctor” and their families had been notified.
They said they had sent in a mountain unit, an underground unit and a dog unit to help with the rescue, while the emergency services dispatched two medical helicopters and a team of psychologists to the area.
“This is terrible news,” tweeted Labour Minister Yolanda Diaz, sending “love and solidarity to the families and colleagues of the workers caught up in the collapse at the Suria mine”.
The mine is owned by ICL Iberia, the Spanish arm of Israel’s ICL Group, which specialises in fertilisers and chemicals.
ICL Iberia is the only company that produces potassium salts in Spain, handling both the extraction, treatment and marketing, its website says.
Based in Suria, it has 1,100 employees.
Nearly 10 years ago, two miners died in December 2013 when a gallery collapsed at the same mine, the Catalan press reported at the time, citing an official statement.
The last major mining accident in Spain was two months earlier, in October 2013, when six people were killed and five others injured following a gas leak at a coal mine in northwest Spain.
It was the worst accident at a Spanish mine since 14 miners were killed in August 1995 during a methane explosion at a coal mine in the northern province of Asturias.