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Accident in Russian mines kills 11 people, rescue team disappears

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  • Dozens trapped underground, rescue efforts stalled
  • Emergency workers are afraid of the explosion
  • The rescue team disappears
  • The latest accident has hit the heart of the Russian coal mine

MOSCOW, Nov 25 (Reuters) – At least 11 miners were killed in an accident at a coal mine in Russia’s Siberia on Thursday and an operation to rescue 35 other people trapped underground was suspended due to the risk of an explosion. said the governor of the region.

In a further grim turn, the Emergency Ministry said a rescue team was later declared missing after not reporting to other rescue units that were ordered to return to the surface.

The ministry did not say how many rescuers were missing.

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The accident happened when coal dust caught fire on a ventilation shaft at the Listvyazhnaya mine in the snow-covered region of Kemerovo early Thursday, filling the mine with smoke, the TASS news agency reported, citing local emergency services.

“The possibility of an explosion is very high. We have decided to suspend the search and rescue operation until the gas concentration decreases,” said regional governor Sergei Tsivilev. Methane levels were extremely high, he said.

Dozens were being treated in hospital, at least some of them with smoke poisoning. Four were in critical condition.

The coal-producing region of Kemerovo, approximately 3,500 km (2,175 miles) east of Moscow, has been hit by fatal mining accidents for years.

The mine is part of SDS-Holding, owned by the privately held Siberian Business Union. The union had no immediate comment.

Before the rescue operation was halted, the governor said there was still electricity and ventilation in the mine, but that they had lost contact with some people deep underground.

Specialists gather near buses during a rescue operation following a fire at the Listvyazhnaya coal mine in the Kemerovo region, Russia, November 25, 2021. Russian Ministry of Emergencies / Notebook via REUTERS

“There is no heavy smoke at the moment, so we hope there will be no fire,” Tsivilev told his Telegram channel. “We do not have communication lines with these people, the underground communication system does not work.”

About 285 people were inside the mine when the smoke spread through the ventilation shaft, the Emergency Situations Ministry said. At least 239 came out on the ground, authorities said. They did not say what caused the smoke.

‘GREAT FATHIKE’

On state television, President Vladimir Putin said he had spoken to the governor and emergency officials, describing the accident as a “major disaster”.

“Unfortunately the situation is not getting any easier. And there is a danger to the lives of rescuers … We will hope they can save as many people as they can,” he said.

The Kremlin said Putin had ordered the emergency minister to fly to the region to help.

Kemerova declared three days of mourning.

In 2007, Kemerova was the site of the worst mining accident since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, when an explosion at the Ulyanovskaya mine killed more than 100 people.

In 2010, explosions at the Raspadskaya mine in the region killed more than 90 people.

The regional branch of the law enforcement agency of the Investigative Committee said it had opened a criminal case for negligence causing loss of life.

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Additional reporting by Anton Kolodyazhnyy, Anastasia Lyrchikova and Gleb Stolyarov; Edited by Mark Trevelyan and Giles Elgood

Our standards: Principles of Trust by Thomson Reuters.

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