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Ukraine miners trapped underground by shelling

28 January 2015

Nearly 500 coal miners in Ukraine's war-torn east were briefly trapped underground on January 27 after their pit lost power when a shell hit an electricity substation. The incident occurred in the rebel-controlled Zasyadko coal mine in Donetsk city, one of eastern Europe's largest.

Donetsk coal mine: Shutterstock
Donetsk coal mine: Shutterstock

A Donetsk region emergencies ministry official said there were 496 miners underground when the power was cut, but a local mining union official later confirmed that all the Zasyadko miners had been rescued.

The rebel Donetsk People’s Republic told Russian media that Ukrainian artillery was to blame, but Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko said radio and telephone intercepts proved that rebel forces were responsible.

More than 300 miners were trapped in the same pit for a few hours on January 11.

The nine-month war in east Ukraine between pro-Russian militants and government forces has claimed nearly 5,100 lives.

Fighting around the rebel stronghold Donetsk intensified this month after a brief lull and the daily death toll is again reaching levels last seen at the height of the war in August.

Rebel leaders last week pulled out of peace talks with the Western-backed government in Kiev and vowed to seize new territory that could expand their reach over most of Ukraine's industrial east.

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