An Australian miner amputated his own arm with a knife after becoming pinned under a tractor, police said today.
In a case evoking memories of American climber Aron Ralston, who earlier this year hacked off his arm after getting trapped under a boulder in a remote Utah canyon, Colin Jones severed his arm with a short-bladed craft knife.
New South Wales state police said that Jones, 43, became trapped late on Saturday night 1.5 miles underground in a coal mine near Lake Macquarie, just south of Newcastle on Australia’s east coast.
Police said his tractor, which was carrying three tons of limestone dust, was believed to have tipped over after hitting a hole on a sharp bend in a mine shaft.
Another worker found the injured miner and raised an alarm, but Jones insisted on severing his arm below the elbow rather than wait for rescue, police said.
It was not clear how long Jones was trapped.
He was being treated at the John Hunter Hospital in Newcastle, about 95 miles north of Sydney, where his condition was listed as stable.
Doctors had hoped to reattach the man’s arm but were unsuccessful, a union spokesman said.
“They were unable to save his arm because of the extent of the crush injuries,” said Les Yates of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union.
Lake Macquarie Police Local Area Commander Michael Kenny said officers would continue their investigations. He added that Mr Jones might have severed the arm because he feared his vehicle would catch fire.
A spokesman for the mine, owned by West Wallsend Colliery, declined to comment, saying the matter was still under investigation.