Four dead, four missing in Russian mine blast
Four miners died Sunday and four were declared missing after a methane blast in a coal mine in Russia's Kemerovo region.
Seventy-seven miners were inspecting mine 7, in the Kuzbass coal basin, owned by the Siberian Coal Energy Company, when the blast occurred.
"Sixty-nine miners were led out to the surface, four miners have died, and the fate of four other miners is unknown," said Oksana Yefremova, the spokeswoman of the Kemerovo regional branch of the emergency ministry.
The rescue operation in the 300-metres-deep mine had to be halted due to high concentrations of methane, and workers began filling part of the mine with water to force out the gas, the emergency ministry said.
It was not immediately clear how flooding the mine may impact on the four possible survivors of the blast.
Kemerovo region governor Aman Tuleyev said in a statement posted by the emergency ministry that the mine is only 12 years old, and coal production was halted after January 7, when another miner was killed by a collapsing wall.
The company made a decision to examine the entire mine to find the reason for the collapse, and sent 77 workers down Sunday, when the explosion happened, he said.
The Kuzbass coal basin in West Siberia is Russia's biggest. Accidents there are relatively common due to ageing infrastructure, violations of ventilation safety requirements and tampering with gas-level monitoring equipment.
© 2013 AFP