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Blaze terror Seven hospitalised after fire in Co Meath zinc mine

No-one was injured in the blaze which was brought under control by the mine's own rescue teams.

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Tara Mines in Co Meath

Tara Mines in Co Meath

Tara Mines in Co Meath

Seven people were taken to hospital after a fire broke out at Europe's largest zinc mines in Co Meath.

The fire which yesterday occurred on a conveyor system at Tara Mines in Navan triggered an emergency response at the plant.

No-one was injured in the blaze which was brought under control by the mine's own rescue teams.

Seven employees were taken to hospital for a precautionary check for smoke exposure but all were later released.

It's understood the seven were split between hospitals in Drogheda and Navan, with the majority taken to Our Lady's Hospital in Navan.

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Fire engine. Stock picture

Fire engine. Stock picture

Fire engine. Stock picture

In a statement Tara Mines said: “On Monday December 27 at approximately 2.10pm, a fire occurred on a conveyor system in the mine.

"An emergency was declared and all employees were evacuated to safe areas and accounted for within a short time.

"Our mines rescue teams safely extinguished the fire.

"Seven employees were taken to hospital for a precautionary examination due to possible exposure to smoke. All employees were released from hospital following the examination."

Fire services battled a separate fire at Our Lady's Hospital in Navan also on Monday where the blaze affected the rehabilitation department and no patients were affected.

In that incident the HSE said they are "co-ordinating with the relevant authorities regarding finding the cause of the fire and assessing full damage.

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"Any disruptions to services will be communicated directly to patients."

However the emergency response at Tara Mines has renewed claims by organisers of the Save Navan Hospital Group that the emergency department is needed at the hospital.

In recent months almost 10,000 people took to the streets in a protest march against the HSE's plans to downgrade the hospital's emergency department and end intensive care services at Our Lady's Hospital.

The rally went ahead despite a recent reprieve ordered by Health Minister Stehen Donnelly but organisers say they want the plans to be dismissed totally.

SIPTU sector organiser John Regan said: "All miners were thankfully taken to hospital as a precaution. The majority of these miners were taken to Our Lady's Hospital and I have to commend the mine's own emergency services for their quick response and the risk measures management have in place in the event of these incidents.

"However, thankfully Our Lady's Hospital is only minutes away for the men to get checked out and it backs up SIPTU's view that the hospital services are critical to the mine, in case of emergency.

"If the fire was more serious and the A&E was downgraded, the miners would have to face a journey of at least 40 minutes to the next nearest hospital."

Chairman of the Save Navan Hospital Group and Aontu leader Peadar Toibin said: "We hope that the seven Tara Mines workers are recovering.

"It underlines that mining can be a hazardous job and it also underlines the fact that Our Lady's Hospital in Navan is a critical piece of infrastructure for the safety and wellbeing of all the miners there.

"It's so hard to understand the mindset of the government and the HSE who were at the precipice of closing our A&E just three months ago in the middle of the Covid pandemic.

"We will continue the fight to keep the 24 hour A&E open at Navan."

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