Mine shaft explosions kill 12 in Romania

Mine shaft explosions kill 12 in RomaniaBucharest - Two underground explosions ripped through a coal mine in Romania on Saturday, killing 12 miners and injuring eight others, a news agency reported.

Eight miners at the Petrila anthracite mine died in the first blast at a depth of 950 meters (3,100 feet). The second explosion killed four members of a rescue team that was lowered into the shaft, the Mediafax agency said.

Six of the injured were in critical condition with severe burns, the head of a local hospital said.

Ignition of methane gas inside the mine was the most likely cause of the explosions, the chief executive of the mining company said.

The mine at Petrila is operated by CNH Petrosani, Romania's national anthracite extraction company. The complex is in the Jiu Valley, a coal mining region rife with poverty, in part because many mines have closed since the fall of communism two decades ago. (dpa)