Russia: At least 52 people – including six rescuers – killed after explosion in Siberian coal mine | World news

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At least 52 people have died after an explosion in a coal mine in Siberia.

The explosion was caused by a methane gas leak about 250 m (820 feet) underground.

Flames and toxic fumes filled the Listvyazhnaya mine in the Kemerovo region, forcing the search for survivors to be abandoned.

Ambulances and fire trucks near the Listvyazhnaya coal mine.  Image: AP
Picture:
Ambulances and fire trucks near the Listvyazhnaya coal mine. Image: AP

Six of those killed were rescuers, and all 52 died of carbon monoxide poisoning.

A total of 285 people were in the mine at the time of the explosion and 239 miners were successfully led to the surface.

One of the rescuers, Sergey Golubin, said: “Blow. Air. Dust. And then we smelled gas and just started going out, as many as we could. We did not even understand what happened first and took in some gas.”

Another miner, Rustam Chebelkov, described the moment he was rescued: “I crawled and then I felt how they grabbed me.

“I stretched out my arms to them, they could not see me, the visibility was poor. They grabbed me and pulled me out. If not for them, we would have been dead.”

A criminal investigation into the explosion has begun.  Image: AP
Picture:
A criminal investigation into the explosion has begun. Image: AP

Thursday’s explosion was the deadliest mine accident in Russia since 2010, when two methane explosions and a fire killed 91 people.

A criminal investigation into the explosion has begun – and officials say the mine’s director, along with two senior executives, have been arrested.

President Vladimir Putin has offered his condolences to the families of the victims and three days of mourning have been announced in the region.

After 36 miners were killed in 2016, the authorities analyzed the safety of Russia’s 58 coal mines – and concluded that 34% of them were potentially unsafe.

The Listvyazhnaya mine was not among them at the time, according to local media.

However, an inspection of the site by a Russian watchdog in April registered 139 violations, including crimes related to fire safety.

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