By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
(Worthy News) – A devastating explosion in a Siberian coal mine deep beneath the service left at least 52 miners and rescuers dead, Russian officials said Thursday.
Russia’s worst mining disaster in a decade reportedly started when coal dust in a ventilation shaft caught fire on Thursday, filling the Siberian mine with smoke and killing many.
By nightfall, a failed operation to reach dozens of missing miners had turned to tragedy after several rescuers suffocated, authorities said.
The emergency services said “no one is left alive” after the disaster about 820 feet (250 meters) underground the Listvyazhnaya mine, in the Kemerovo region of southwestern Siberia.
The extend of the tragedy became already clear hours after the methane gas explosion, and fire filled the mine with toxic fumes when rescuers found 14 bodies.
But the frantic search for 38 others was halted because of a buildup of methane and carbon monoxide gas from the fire, officials said. Another 239 people were reportedly rescued.
It was the deadliest mine accident in Russia since 2010 when two methane explosions and fire killed 91 people at the Raspadskaya mine in the same Kemerovo region.
The miners who survived the latest tragedy recalled their shock after reaching the surface.
“Impact. Air. Dust. And then, we smelled gas and just started walking out, as many as we could,” one of the rescued miners, Sergey Golubin, said in televised remarks. “We didn’t even realize what happened at first and took some gas in.”
Russia’s Investigative Committee said it 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.
President Vladimir Putin extended his condolences to the families of the dead and ordered the government to offer all necessary assistance to those injured.
The tragedy has underscored concerns about the often dangerous coal mines in Russia, where inadequate safety standards often fueled by corruption added to the problems.
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