More than 50 killed in Russian coal mine fire
Rescuers have found a survivor in a Siberian coal mine where 52 miners were presumed dead after a devastating methane explosion, a top Russian official announced Friday.
Sergei Tsivilyov, governor of the Kemerovo region where the mine is located, said on the messaging app Telegram that the survivor was found in the Listvyazhnaya mine in southwestern Siberia, and "he is being taken to the hospital".
Acting Emergency Minister Alexander Chupriyan said the man found in the mine was a rescuer who had been presumed dead, according to the Associated Press.
Earlier reports said there were approximately 285 people in the Listvyazhnaya mine in Belovo, Siberia, when a fire erupted Thursday, filling the mine with smoke, the Associated Press reports. Most were evacuated, but dozens became trapped underground in a remote section of the mine.
The rescue operation was suspended due to high levels of methane and carbon monoxide, according to the Interfax news agency. The death toll includes six rescue workers.
The Russian Investigative Committee in the Kemerovo region said it will conduct a criminal probe into potential violations of industrial safety requirements on dangerous production sites.
Prosecutors believe a methane explosion is the cause of the fire, which then filled a ventilation shaft, Reuters reports, citing state television. The director of the Listvyazhnaya mine and two senior managers were arrested on suspicion of violating industrial safety rules, according to Reuters and the AP.
It appears to be the deadliest mine accident in Russia since 2010, when two methane explosions and a fire killed 91 people at the Raspadskaya mine in the same Kemerovo region.
In 2016, 36 miners were killed in a series of methane explosions in a coal mine in Russia's far north. In the wake of the incident, authorities analysed the safety of the country's 58 coal mines and declared 20 of them, or 34 per cent, potentially unsafe.
Regional officials declared three days of mourning. Russia's Investigative Committee has launched a criminal probe into the fire over violations of safety regulations that led to deaths. It said the mine director and two senior managers were detained.
Kemerovo Governor Sergey Tsivilyov declared three days of mourning for the victims, according to the TASS news agency, meaning flags will be flown at half-mast, and all local entertainment events and TV shows will be canceled.
Dozens of miners were still being treated at a hospital Thursday evening. Reuters characterized the incident as one of Russia’s worst mining disasters since the Soviet Union era.
The coal mine’s owner, holding company SDS, part of the privately held Siberian Business Union, said in a statement to TASS that it will pay the families of those killed 2 million rubles, or about $26,780, with additional compensation on a case-by-case basis.
Photo: via Associated Press