Up to 35 workers trapped half a mile underground after explosion at mine

About 35 workers were trapped 2,300ft underground following an unexplained explosion at a former potash salt mine.

Two workers were injured – one of them seriously – and taken to hospital after the blast at the Teutschenthal facility, near the town of Halle in eastern Germany.

The trapped workers escaped to a safety area underground, where they were being supplied with oxygen, before they returned to the surface through an intact shaft.

A major operation was launched to rescue the workers who were stuck about 700 metres (2,300ft) underground, the DPA news agency reported.

The blast happened just after 9am local time on Friday at a former potash salt mine that was was shut down in 1982.

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It has since been converted into a backfill mine, where workers fill in the cavities left behind following 80 years of mining, dispose of mineral waste and protect the surface from collapse, Deutsche Welle reported.

Officials initially said there were up to 30 workers trapped down in the mine, but later said there were about 35.

Firefighters launched a rescue operation and the two injured workers were taken to hospital, the broadcaster MDR reported.

One of the workers suffered serious injuries, while the other worker's condition wasn't as serious.

About 100 people work at the mine.

Halle is about 95 miles south-west of Berlin.

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