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Dozens presumed dead in Siberian coal mine explosion

Kemerovo Gov. Sergei Tsivilyov, center left, honors fallen mine explosion rescuers presumed dead in Gramoteino village in southwestern Siberia on Friday. Associated Press/Photo by Sergei Gavrilenko

Dozens presumed dead in Siberian coal mine explosion

A senior regional officer in Russia said that an explosion in the Listvyazhnaya mine in Siberia on Thursday occurred when coal dust caught fire and spread through the mine’s ventilation system. More than 280 people were in the mine at the time of the blast, and many did not get out to safety: Authorities have placed the presumed death toll at 51, including five rescuers. Rescue teams had to stop operations due to built up methane and carbon monoxide, and one rescuer initially believed dead was found alive on Friday and taken to the hospital for carbon monoxide poisoning.  The regional governor said they were unlikely to find any more survivors and declared three days of public mourning. The disaster marks Russia’s worst mine explosion since 91 miners died in a 2010 methane fire in the same region.

Did the mine follow safety regulations? After deadly explosions in another coal mine in 2016, Russian inspectors deemed 20 mines potentially unsafe, but the Listvyazhnaya mine was not on that list. Miners previously complained about dangerous methane levels, and former employees told independent media that safety protocols were ignored and gas sensors were plugged. Meduza, Russia’s top independent news website, reported that authorities fined the company running the mine roughly $53,000 for safety violations this year. The country’s Investigation Committee has started two criminal probes: one into possible safety violations and one into claims that state officials who inspected the mine earlier this month were criminally negligent.

Dig deeper: Listen to Onize Ohikere’s World Tour report in The World and Everything in It about a mine collapse in China earlier this year.

Carolina Lumetta

Carolina is a reporter for WORLD Digital. She is a World Journalism Institute and Wheaton College graduate. She resides in Washington, D.C.



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