At least 52 miners and rescuers died after an accident at the mine in Siberia

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The number of miners and rescuers killed when a fire broke out in a coal mine in Siberia has risen to 52, according to Russian news reports.

The fire broke out at the mine in the northern Russian region of Kemerovo on Thursday, local authorities say.

Eleven miners were found dead while three rescuers also died later while searching for others trapped underground. The Russian emergency ministry said first in one statement that a total of 239 people have been brought to the surface, while 38 people remained missing and were feared dead.

Meanwhile, the rescue mission had to be suspended completely due to rising levels of carbon monoxide fumes from the fire, and methane build-up posed a risk of explosion, threatening further casualties among the rescuers.

According to the Russian state news agencies, Tass, RIA and Interfax, all local officials quoted as saying that at this time there was no chance of finding any survivors.

A total of 285 people were in the Listvyazhnaya mine at the time of the incident, Kemerovo Governor Sergei Tsivilyov said on Telegram.

Tsiviljov said in another post in Telegram that 43 people with injuries have sought medical help. Regional officials have declared three days of mourning for the victims.

The cause of the fire is still unknown, but Russian media have reported that coal dust caught fire and that smoke quickly filled the Litsvyazhnaya mine through the ventilation system.

But Russia’s deputy prosecutor Dmitry Demeshin told reporters that the fire was probably due to a methane explosion caused by a spark.

Russia’s investigative committee has launched a criminal investigation into suspected violations of security regulations.

President Vladimir Putin has expressed his condolences to the families of the victims and ordered the government to offer all necessary assistance to the injured, according to Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.

After 36 miners were killed in a series of explosions in a coal mine in 2016, Russian authorities analyzed the safety of the country’s 58 coal mines and declared 20 of them potentially unsafe.

Accidents in Russian mines are often blamed on poor safety regulations or outdated Soviet equipment.

The deadliest accident in recent years killed 91 people and injured more than 100 in May 2010 at the Raspadskaya mine, which is also located in the Kemerovo region.

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