Miners cling to life as thousands raised for recovery
FIVE miners caught in a Moranbah coal mine explosion are clinging to life in a Brisbane hospital but their colleagues have rallied around their families, raising $70,000 in just hours.
Four of the men injured in the Grosvenor Mine explosion remain in a critical condition on ventilators, while the fifth is in a serious but stable condition.
The five men were members of the mine's A crew longwall team. Yesterday their colleagues working in the mine's B crew an online fundraiser that has raised more than $70,000.
Fundraiser organiser Robin Buchanan, with six others, last night thanked the overwhelming support for his workmates after the disaster.
"This accident has shocked us all, and this is the least we can do to assist their families," the fundraiser read.
"Together let's assist the families of the boys affected by the incident that occurred at Grosvenor.
UPDATE, 7AM: FOUR miners seriously injured in an underground mine explosion remain in a critical condition while a fifth has stabilised overnight.
The four men suffered burns to the upper torso and airways.
They have been intubated and are on ventilators undergoing treatment in Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital.
A fifth man is in a serious condition.
OVERNIGHT: FIVE miners were last night fighting for their lives after a major explosion at a central Queensland underground coal mine in one of the biggest accidents to rock the industry in recent years.
An ignition of gas is believed to have caused the explosion underground at Anglo American's Grosvenor Mine near Moranbah about 3.15pm on Wednesday.
Paramedics were called to treat the five people in a serious condition with significant burns to their bodies before they were rushed to Moranbah Hospital. The injured patients were flown by RACQ LifeFlight Rescue air ambulance jets to the Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital, arriving late last night.
Two mine inspectors were rushed to the site last night, with more to come today.
The tragedy sparked an outpouring of sympathy from the community, with Mackay MP Julieanne Gilbert describing it as "terrible".
"I'm thinking of these workers, their families and colleagues," Mrs Gilbert said.
"Everyone deserves to be safe at work."
Burdekin MP Dale Last, who was in the mining community of Middlemount yesterday when the incident unfolded, said it had sent shockwaves through the industry.
"Everyone was very sombre, very concerned," he said.
"My thoughts and prayers are with the injured miners, their family and friends.
"It has come as a big shock to the resource sector, which is a very close-knit community."
Capricornia MP Michelle Landry said her heart and thoughts were with those impacted by the disaster.
"Everyone deserves to come home safe from work," she said.
"To their friends, families and colleagues, my thoughts are with you as well during this time."
CFMEU Mining and Energy Queensland district president Stephen Smyth said the first priority was taking care of affected workers.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with the injured workers and their families, and all the workers at Grosvenor affected by today's events," he said. "The union will do everything possible to support a return to safe conditions at the mine and get to the bottom of what has occurred.
"Explosions are the worst nightmare for underground coal miners.
"We will make sure no stone is left unturned."
An Anglo American spokeswoman said the company had contacted all the injured workers' families.
"All remaining onsite personnel have been accounted for," she said.
"The mine is in the process of being evacuated and operations stopped.
"The mines inspectorate has been contacted and Anglo American is working to ensure the injured people have the best available medical care."
It has been almost four months since the last major Queensland mining incident after Donald Rabbitt's death at a Blackwater mine.
Before that, there had been seven deaths in the state's mines and quarry industry within 18 months.
Mines Minister Anthony Lynham said he expected a "thorough independent investigation" by the mine safety regulator, and that his primary concern was for the injured workers and their families.
"My thoughts and prayers are with them and their workmates," he said.
"They are in the best of hands with Queensland's world class medical teams in our public hospitals.
"I'm advised that two mines inspectors are on site, and two more will arrive tomorrow, including the Deputy Chief Inspector of Mines.
"All other workers are accounted for and operations have ceased."
Originally published as Miners fighting for life after explosion