An explosion at coal mine in Russia killed 36 miners, according to Russian authorities.
State-run news agency RIA Novosti reported that two blasts at the mine in the city of Vorkuta trapped 26 miners on Feb. 25. Four miners were killed and 81 escaped to ground level. On Feb. 28, a third explosion at the mine occurred as a rescue team was attempting to reach the miners, state media reported. The blast killed five rescue workers and a miner.
In its wake, Russia's Emergency Situations Minister Vladimir Puchkov told reporters that there was virtually no chance of survival for any of the 26 miners who had been trapped since Thursday in the Severnaya coal mine in the city of Vorkuta, CNN reported.
Three days of mourning have been declared in Komi Republic, the icy region of Russia's polar north where the mine is located, Russia state media reported.
Puchkov told reporters the blast occurred in the area where the miners were stuck. The high temperatures and lack of oxygen in that part of the mine meant that they had no chance of survival, he said.
Puchkov praised the rescue workers for their bravery.
"They were working under most complex conditions and demonstrated courage, heroism and top-notch skills," he told reporters.