Russian mine blast kills 18

A METHANE gas explosion at a Severstal Resources underground mine in northern Russia has left 18 workers dead, according to reports.
Russian mine blast kills 18 Russian mine blast kills 18 Russian mine blast kills 18 Russian mine blast kills 18 Russian mine blast kills 18


Donna Schmidt

The interior ministry put the death toll at 18, but Reuters reported 16 had been killed and the fate of two others were unknown.

Reuters initially reported 10 bodies had been recovered from the Vorkutinskaya operation in the Komi region Monday evening local time and efforts were underway to bring the remaining eight to the surface.

Russia's Emergency Situations Ministry said about 300 rescuers were included in the recovery effort, and ministry spokesman Pyotr Lomakov told Associated Press that 23 men were in the mine at the time of the blast.

Four of them were able to get out on their own and two were rescued. They were reportedly about 2620 feet underground.

About 250 people were at the mine complex when the explosion occurred Monday.

Russia has come under fire in the past for spates of accidents, many due to blasts, negligence and insufficient safety practices, and the country has many older pit operations.

“We need a clear and understandable picture of what happened,” emergencies minister Vladimir Puchkov told local officials including Reuters via a conference link.

The minister spoke to media from the mine in Komi. He was sent to the mine at Russian President Vladimir Putin’s request to oversee the rescue and cleanup as well as assist victims’ families.

According to regional news agency Itar-Tass, Puchkov said each victim’s family would receive 2 million rubles ($US66,400) as compensation for those killed.

The mine produces about 1 million tonnes annually.

Officials told the news service that the explosion, which impacted just one of the mine walls, was not expected to have a significant effect on output.

The Vorkutinskaya mine has been in operation since 1973.

At press time, Severstal had not yet released public statement.

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