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Four killed in Russia mine blast, 26 missing

26 February 2016

Four people were killed in a blast and collapse in the Severnaya mine in Vorkuta, in the far north of Russia, on February 26. A methane explosion was responsible for the incident, according to the press office of mine owner Vorkutaugol. The company said 26 miners are still trapped underground and the mine's ventilation system is in working order but the accident zone is filled with smoke.

Stock image
Stock image

"According to preliminary data, the accident at the Severnaya mine was caused by the sudden discharge and explosion of methane in the mining area. This was confirmed by Russian Emergency Situations Ministry laboratory tests," the company said.

Russian Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin told Interfax on February 26:
The Emergency Situations Ministry's Main Directorate in Komi told Interfax that external personnel and equipment are being drafted in.

The accident occurred at the Severnaya mine in Vorkuta on February 25. Initially, there were reports of a mine bump (rock burst).

There were 110 people inside the mine at the time of the explosion and rockburst, and 80 miners were lifted to the surface. Eight of these were injured and are being treated in hospital.

Vorkutaugol's Technical Director Dmitry Paikin said there were two explosions at the mine, which caused serious damage and started a fire, thus complicating the rescue effort.

"The preliminary information is that an explosion occurred at the longwall yesterday afternoon. The people were evacuated immediately. Approximately one hour later a second explosion occurred," he said.

Several heaps of rubble formed at the epicenter of the explosions, Paikin said. "A fire broke out. Putting it out with conventional methods does not appear possible yet. We will be looking at the possibility of temporary isolation of the fire area," the company's technical director said.
Mine rescuers are trying to make contact with the miners trapped underground, he said.

Criminal proceedings have been instituted over the emergency under Article 216, part 3 of the Russian Criminal Code (violation of safety rules in mining, construction and other works that resulted in the death of two and more persons through negligence).

The Russian Emergency Situations Ministry has opened a response headquarters and a telephone hotline.

Vorkuta is a coal-mining town in Russia’s Komi Republic situated just north of the Arctic Circle.

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