Russia coal mine explosion kills 18, about 240 miners escaped to the surface – 110213 1425z

(Photo: huffpost.com/AP) Photo taken Jan. 22, 2010 and released by Russia’’s Emergency Situations on the Emergency Ministry

An underground explosion killed 18 people in a Russian coal mine on Monday, Interfax news agency quoted an Interior Ministry official as saying. “According to preliminary information … 18 people died, 10 of whom have been brought to the surface,” said an official at the ministry’s press department as saying. The mine belongs to a division of Severstal, one of Russia’s largest steel producers.

Monday, 11 February, 2013 at 11:45 (11:45 AM) UTC RSOE

Photo provided on February 11, 2013, by the Russian Emergencies Ministry shows an entrance to Vorkutinskaya coal mine in the remote Russian Far North town of Vorkuta within the Arctic Circle

News Reports

“MOSCOW — A blast at a coal mine in northern Russia on Monday killed 18 people, officials said Monday.

Rescuers have recovered 10 bodies at the Vorkutinskaya mine in Russia’s Komi region, Vadim Kolesnikov, a duty officer at the Russian Interior Ministry, told the Associated Press.

There were 23 men in the mine at the time of the blast that happened because of the build-up of methane, the Emergency Situations Ministry said. Two of them were able to get out of the mine on their own and three were rescued.

Russian investigators opened a probe into suspected violation of safety rules at the mine, the Investigative Committee said in a statement.

Deadly accidents at coal mines are frequent in Russia because of negligence and recurrent violations of safety regulations. In January, nine people died in two separate mine accidents.” – huffingtonpost.com

Russia coal mine blast kills 18: Interior Ministry

(Reuters) – “An underground methane gas explosion killed up to 18 miners at a coal pit in northern Russia on Monday, the latest in a long line of fatal accidents at Russian collieries.

Rescue workers said they had brought 10 bodies to the surface at the Vorkutinskaya mine, owned by large Russian steel company Severstal, in the icy Komi region and were trying to recover eight other corpses.

About 250 people had been at the pit at the time of the blast, about 800 meters (2,620 feet) below the surface but most had escaped or been rescued, government officials said.

The explosion is likely to renew concerns about safety at Russia’s ageing pits, where accidents are common, often because of such explosions, negligence or a failure to follow safety regulations.

“We need a clear and understandable picture of what happened,” Emergencies Minister Vladimir Puchkov told local officials and rescue workers via a video link-up soon after the explosion.

President Vladimir Putin later told Puchkov to go personally to Komi, about 1,200 km (750 miles) northeast of Moscow, to oversee the rescue and cleanup work and help the victims’ families. Putin also sent his condolences.

The Interior Ministry put the death toll at 18, but the Emergencies Ministry said 16 had been killed and the fate of two others was not known.

Puchkov was quoted by Itar-Tass news agency as saying each of the family’s victims would receive 2 million roubles ($66,400) as compensation.

“I need a clear report on the injured, the condition of their health and what kind of necessary specialized medical help they need. We are sending the appropriate experts from Moscow,” he was shown telling officials on television.

Temperatures sink far below zero in winter in Vorkuta, which was part of the Gulag network of prison camps under Soviet dictator Josef Stalin, who died in 1953.

Putin, whose ratings have fallen following protests against him, will be keen to be seen to act quickly and ensure the explosion is dealt with efficiently.

Critics say he has not always dealt with such disasters quickly in the past and portray Russia as facing economic and political stagnation 13 years after he first rose to power.

The explosion was also a blow to Severstal, whose shares fell 2.2 per cent in Moscow afterwards.

The blast, which affected only one of the mine’s walls, is not expected to greatly affect output, which is approximately 1 million tonnes a year.

Improvements have been made in the safety of Russian coal mines since the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991 but accidents are frequent.

A mine blast killed 110 people in the coal-mining region of Kemerevo in 2007 and another explosion in the same region in 2010 killed more than 60.

Russia’s federal Investigative Committee said it had opened an investigation to check whether there had been any safety violations at the Vorkutinskaya mine, which has been in operation since 1973.

(Additional reporting by Maya Dyakina, Andrey Kuzmin, and Gabriela Baczynska; Writing by Thomas Grove, Editing by Timothy Heritage and Angus MacSwan)”

Russia coal mine explosion kills 18 in Komi region

BBC NEWS 11 February 2013 Last updated at 13:01

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“An underground explosion at a coal mine in the Komi region of northern Russia has killed 18 people, officials say.

Rescuers were brought in to search for people trapped below the surface at the Vorkutinskaya mine after the blast caused a tunnel collapse.

The explosion is thought to have been caused by a methane gas build-up. About 240 miners escaped to the surface.

Accidents are frequent in Russia’s huge coal mining industry despite recent efforts to improve safety.

The coal mine outside the city of Vorkuta in the Russian Arctic is operated by the steel-making giant Severstal.”

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