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Coal mine explosion in Ukraine kills eight

03 March 2017

On March 1, a methane explosion killed at least eight coal miners and injured six others some 550 metres underground in western Ukraine's Lviv region. Ukrainian emergency officials said about 34 miners were working in the area of the blast in Stepnaya mine in Lviv's Sokal district. Authorities rescued 20 trapped miners several hours later.

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There were 172 miners working in the mine at the time of the explosion, Lviv region head Oleg Sinyutka told NewsOne TV.

President Petro Poroshenko declared Ukraine to be in mourning, adding that all coal mines will undergo safety inspections.

The blast happened at a depth of 550 meters and triggered a cave-in over one of the conveyor belts, the local emergency service said. The mine is part of Lvovugol, and has been in operation since 1978. It is rated as highly dangerous due to the high amounts of methane gas in the coal mined there.

According to Sinyutka, the mine was preparing to increase output to compensate for a coal shortage in the country. Ukraine is currently in a state of emergency in the energy sector due to a lack of coal needed for electricity and central heating.

 “Since we lost coal from eastern Ukraine, we have been preparing to boost production of Lvovugol. Whether the explosion is connected with the preparations for increasing the output or anything else is up for an investigative commission to establish,” an official told 122 Ukraine TV channel.

Coal had previously been supplied from rebel-held areas in the east, but over a month ago, nationalist paramilitary fighters supported by several legislators imposed a blockade on the railroads. The people behind the blockade argue that trading with the rebels is tantamount to treason.

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