Gas accumulation and explosions at Siberian coal mines on Thursday killed at least 52 people (including six rescuers) in the country’s worst mining accident in more than a decade, according to Russian officials.
A Russian investigative commission reported that an accident occurred early in the morning after ventilation towers began to fill gas at the Ristovyaznaya mine in the Kemerovo region of Russia, about 2,200 miles east of Moscow.
Rescue efforts at the mine, which plunges 1,300 feet to Earth, continued all day long, despite the ever-increasing death toll. Miners, initially thought to be missing, were gradually moved to the list of dead until the end of Thursday, when authorities said they had to stop rescue operations due to high methane levels in the mine. rice field.
Russian news agency Interfax reported that it seems unlikely that anyone else would be alive.
At least some of the dead were choked workers. Others may have been trapped.
The country’s deputy prosecutor told Interfax that the methane explosion most likely made it impossible for miners to escape.
One miner, Mikhail Posdonyakov, said he had heard a “loud sound” on channel 1 of Russia’s national television network and “I couldn’t see anything after that.”
“Everyone is full of dust and ash and has fallen to the ground,” Pozdonyakov said from the hospital. “7 people went out with me and 5 were left there.”
Coal mining accidents have been common in Russia since the Soviet era, and some are due to sporadic enforcement of regulations.
This year alone, several government agencies have checked the Listvyazhnaya mine dozens of times. A Russian technical oversight agency said in a statement that it had found hundreds of violations, fined them and even ordered them to suspend their work.
However, the mine opened on Thursday and by the end of the day dozens of people had died.
The investigative commission said it had begun a criminal investigation into the disaster and had already arrested the director, adjutant, and head of the mining sector at the mine where the incident occurred.
The Kemerovo region accounts for more than half of the coal produced in Russia. It is also the place where the worst mining accident occurred.
In 2007, an explosion at the Ulyanovskaya mine killed more than 100 people. In 2010, two explosions at the Raskadoskaya mine killed more than 90 people. In 2004, 13 miners were killed in the same mine where the explosion occurred on Thursday.