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Works director convicted after fatal mine collapse

AN AUSTRIAN court has found the works director of a talc mine guilty of negligence after the 1998 Lassing mine collapse, in which 10 men died and the centre of a village was left cratered.

At a hearing in June, the head of the Lassing operation, Hermann Schmidt, received a sentence of 20 months probationary custody and fined Sch120,000 (£6,000).

Schmidt's deputy, Wolfgang Wedrac, was sentenced to 10 months probationary custody and fined £5,400.

Three other accused were discharged.

The 10 died in the cave while attempting to rescue a man trapped by a previous collapse.

The man was rescued nine days later after a 60m shaft was sunk to the chamber where he was trapped.

The prosecution claimed that neither of the collapses would have occurred if a proper and safe distance had been kept between the mining operations and the surface.

Plans of the workings were said to have been fau lty.

It was also alleged that officials had failed to notice signs of the impending tragedy, including the movement of groundwater.

The convicted men have launched an appeal.

Nigel Glass in Vienna

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