Reports indicated that 970 workers were in the mine and more than 250 were near the area at the time of the accident. Most were brought to the surface. Just months earlier, a methane gas blast ripped through a shaft of the Kirov mine near the town of Makyivka, killing 10 miners.
More than 140 Ukrainian miners are believed to have died this year because of outdated equipment and safety hazards.
This most recent tragedy was the second in three years at Zasyadko, Ukraine's biggest mine, and points to the need for modern methane recovery systems and strictly enforced safety measures. Ironically, the Zasyadko mine is the site of a successful project that recovers methane for compression and use as vehicle fuel, and is considered to be a promising candidate for increased methane recovery and use.
Speaking at the Zasyadko mine after the explosion, Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma announced that he will call on international organizations to help fund a "degasification" program at Ukrainian coal mines.
An estimated 75% of Ukraine's mines are considered to be highly prone to methane blasts. Increasing the recovery and use of methane from gassy mines in Ukraine would reduce methane-related mining accidents while reducing the need for imported natural gas.