Fifty-two people including six rescuers are believed to have died after Thursday’s accident in a Siberian coal mine, Russian news agencies reported.
“According to preliminary information, no one is left alive in the mine,” state news agency TASS quoted a source in the local emergency services as saying.
News agencies Interfax and RIA Novosti also reported 52 dead, with TASS and RIA Novosti saying six rescuers were among the dead.
An explosion erupted at the Listvyazhnaya coal mine in Kemerovo 3,600 kilometers east of Moscow early Thursday, Governor Sergei Tsivilev wrote on his Telegram channel, with 285 miners inside the mine.
The emergency services told Interfax that 239 miners were evacuated following the explosion, which happened at 04:30 a.m. Moscow time.
A team of six rescuers sent to find the trapped miners stopped responding to communications, the emergencies ministry said, and are believed to be among the dead.
Search-and-rescue efforts for the 46 trapped miners were suspended due to high methane concentrations and the risk of another explosion.
According to regional authorities, 38 miners have been hospitalized with injuries and another 13 are being treated for their injuries on an outpatient basis.
RIA Novosti reported that three of those hospitalized are in critical condition.
Deputy Prosecutor General Dmitry Demeshin said the incident was the result of a methane explosion caused by a spark.
Alexander Sergeyev, the head of Russia’s Independent Miners’ Union, blamed the incident on “sheer carelessness” toward safety rules by mine owners and management.
“And now they are shifting the blame onto the workers again. This is a systemic problem when people go into anything for the sake of profit,” he told the Moskovsky Komsomolets tabloid.
Law enforcement authorities have opened a criminal case into the violation of industrial safety requirements that resulted in a person’s death.
The Investigative Committee said that the 47-year-old mine director, 59-year-old first deputy director and 36-year-old site manager have been detained as part of the case. If charged, they face up to seven years in prison.
The Listvyazhnaya mine is owned by SDS-Ugol, one of Russia’s top three coal producers.
AFP contributed reporting.
Source: The Mosscow Times