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Explosion in German potash mine kills three

02 October 2013

A controlled explosion at a potash mine in Unterbreizbach, Thuringia, released high levels of carbon dioxide that suffocated three miners on October 2. Four others initially reported missing were rescued 700 metres below ground, according to Bild. Carbon dioxide occurs naturally in potash deposits that are mined using controlled explosions. 

Two mines and an above-ground work area were "protectively evacuated", the company said in a statement.

"Having a carbon dioxide leak is an everyday occurrence," said spokesman Ulrich Goebel for mine operator K+S Potash. "But it is highly unusual to have such a large quantity seep out so that the gas penetrates the mine shaft and escapes above ground."

K+S Potash operates six mines in Germany, producing salts for the agricultural, healthcare and food industries. The company said the authorities were investigating the incident.

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