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Thirty two killed In Ukraine mine explosion, 70 more trapped underground

04 March 2015

There were conflicting reports over the number of casualties in a Ukraine coal mine on March 4, but Vladimir Groysman, Ukraine’s parliament speaker, told MPs that 32 miners had been killed in an coal mine explosion near rebel-held Donetsk. The blast took place at the Zasyadko mine in the Donbas coal field and emergency services have launched a rescue attempt to reach 70 more miners who are trapped underground.

Donbas mine - Image: Shutterstock
Donbas mine - Image: Shutterstock

"More than 30 people were killed. Rescue workers have not yet come to the place of the explosion, they are removing the poisonous gas and then will go down," Vladimir Tsymbalenko, head of the local mining safety service, told Reuters.

Separatist authorities in Donetsk said the blast occurred at a depth of more than 1,000 metres and that 230 workers were in the mine at the time. The statement said the explosion was caused by a mixture of methane and air - a common cause of industrial mining accidents.

The mines in the Donbas area of Eastern Ukraine are among the most dangerous in the world due to the high levels of methane within the coal seams. According to a Sky report, some 300 miners die in mine accidents in the region every year.

The Zasyadko mine was the scene of one of Ukraine’s worst-ever mining accidents in 2007, when 101 people died in a methane explosion. Fifty miners were killed and 40 injured in a similar explosion at the mine in 1999. 

Donetsk and the Donbas have seen some of the worst fighting between pro-Russian rebels, allegedly supported by Russian troops, and Ukraine government forces.

Hostilities started in April 2014 and despite the signing of a ceasefire on February 11, sporadic fighting has continued. Mines have been affected by power cuts and artillery strikes during the conflict.

In January, 500 miners at Zasyadko were briefly trapped underground after electricity transformers supplying it were hit by shelling.

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