Hopes fade for Russian miners

At least 44 miners have been killed and one remains missing in the early hours of Monday after the blast at the Taizhina coal mine in Siberia on Saturday morning.

Methane gas is thought to have caused the blast some 600 metres below ground in Russia’s Kuzbass coal mining area.

The explosion led to a fire underground and caused the shaft to collapse in several places. Gas flooded the underground tunnels and the ventilation system stopped working.

“Hope dies last, but there is little chance of finding anyone alive,” said Valery Korchagin, a rescue official for the Kemerovo region, adding that 41 bodies had been recovered so far.

A team of more than 300 workers, some from the nearby city of Krasnoyarsk, were drafted in to help the rescue effort, which continued round-the-clock in a bid to reach any survivors.

Wearing gas marks to protect themselves from carbon dioxide in the air, they were forced to approach from an adjacent mine because of the damage to the shaft.

“It was impossible to survive in there,” said one of the rescuers who emerged with a blackened face from the mineshaft.

Until Saturday evening, some voices and sounds could be heard from underground, but since then it had gone silent, another rescuer told the AFP news agency, adding that there had been no contact with the missing miners.

The wife of one of the missing men, Oksana Kuznetsova, who has two children, aged eight and 10, said tearfully that she was resigned to widowhood.

“I don’t have much hope, I am getting ready for his funeral,” she said.

Russian television showed the bodies being carried out in black plastic bags.

Out of 59 miners in the mine at the time of the accident, rescuers managed to get six of them to safety – they were suffering from burns and other injuries.

Three of them had to be stretchered out and all of them were hospitalised. Another six miners at the top of the shaft escaped unscathed.

The Russian coal mining industry, largely unprofitable and suffering from underfunding, is notoriously accident-prone, with several fatal incidents over the past months.

Comments are closed.

Post Navigation