At least 52 people died after a Siberian mine suffered a massive explosion on Thursday while miners and rescuers were still about 250 meters below the surface as rescue teams continue to find bodies.
Russian news reports revealed that hours after a methane gas explosion caused a blaze inside a mine, rescuers discovered 14 dead bodies. However, they were forced to withdraw and delay the search for the other 38 bodies due to the buildup of methane and a high concentration of carbon monoxide caused by the fire.
Massive Mine Explosion
Emergency officials reportedly said that there was absolutely no chance that they would be able to find and rescue survivors inside the mine. A local news agency, Interfax, cited a representative of the regional administration who also stated the death toll from the incident on Thursday as being at 52, adding they died of carbon monoxide poisoning.
There were a total of 285 people inside the Listvyazhnaya mine located in the Kemerovo region of Southwestern Siberia at the time the fire broke out. The blaze quickly spread smoke throughout the mine's ventilation system. Rescuers were able to escort about 239 miners to the surface, 49 of whom were injured, and found 11 dead bodies, NPR reported.
The recent incident is considered to be the deadliest mine accident in Russia since 2010 when two separate methane gas explosions and a fire took the lives of 91 people. The deadly blast occurred at the Raspadskaya mine in the same Kemerovo region where the latest blast took place.
Later on the day of the recent explosion, six rescuers lost their lives while searching for other people who were trapped inside a remote section of the mine. Regional officials dedicated three days for the mourning of the lives that were lost to the incident.
In a statement, Russia's Deputy Prosecutor General Dmitry Demeshin told reporters that the fire caused by the methane explosion originated from a spark in the mine. Some of the surviving miners described their experiences after reaching the surface.
"Impact. Air. dust. And then, we smelled gas and just started walking out, as many as we could. We didn't even realize what happened at first and took some gas in," said one of the rescued miners, identified as Sergey Golubin, in his televised remarks, ABC News reported.
Another miner, identified as Mikhail Pozdnyakov, said that he heard a "loud bang" and immediately was unable to see anything. The worker said that everything was suddenly filled with dust and ashes. He noted that anyone who could quickly fell to the ground. Pozdnyakov said that he got out with seven others while five workers were left inside the mine.
Since Soviet times, coal mine accidents in Russia have been very common, some of which have been attributed to the sporadic enforcement of regulations. Several government agencies in Russia have this year alone, checked the Listvyazhnaya mine several dozen times.
Officials discovered hundreds of violations, issued fines, and ordered work to be suspended, said Russia's technology watchdog in a statement, the New York Times reported.