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Coal mine explosion kills 51, injures dozens in Russia

26 November 2021

An explosion killed 51 people and injured 49 at the Listvyazhnaya coal mine in Russia’s Kemerovo Region on November 25. There were 285 miners in the mine when the incident occurred with 46 of them being killed by the explosion. Five rescuers also died from suffocation after entering the mine to recover bodies and help trapped miners.

Image: Investigative Committee of Russia
Image: Investigative Committee of Russia

The Investigative Committee of Russia for the Kemerovo region said that investigators had detained the Listvyazhnaya mine’s first deputy and site manager for violating industrial safety requirements for hazardous production facilities.

The incident occurred after a mine shaft filled with gas, most likely methane, which then ignited at around 08:35 local time. The Listvyazhnaya mine is located around 2,175 miles (3,500km) east of Moscow. Russia’s Emergencies Ministry (EMERCOM) said that 285 people were inside the mine at the time of the explosion and that 239 were able to make it to the surface. The official death toll was initially reported as 11 while 35 miners were said to be missing. A total of 49 people required treatment at hospital, mostly due to smoke inhalation. Four of the injured were said to be in serious conditions.  

A recue operation was started in the afternoon with several rescue teams entering the mine. The operation was stopped when high levels of methane were detected in the mine, however one team of six rescuers failed to emerge from the mine. The bodies of three rescuers were later retrieved while three more remained missing. Rescue operations were suspended until the morning of November 26, when one of the missing rescuers emerged from the mine alive. He was rushed to hospital with moderate carbon monoxide poisoning, EMERCOM said. The remaining two rescuers were confirmed to have died, likely from suffocation.  

As part of a visit to the site, Acting Head of EMERCOM Alexander Chupriyan rescue teams are continuing to take air samples in the mine to determine the level of risk. "Surveying the mine is a lengthy process. Now it is necessary to displace oxygen in the mine to prevent a second explosion," Chupriyan said. He also stressed that rescue teams would work out the best solution to continue search operations.

On November 26, Chupriyan confirmed that the missing miners had all died. “On November 25, the tragedy at the Listvyazhnaya mine in the Kemerovo Region claimed the lives of 51 people. At the time of the accident, there were 285 miners in the mine. It was possible to bring 239 people out of the mine. Unfortunately, 46 miners died. During the search and rescue operations, 5 mine rescuers of the Paramilitary Mine Rescue Unit of the Ministry of Emergency Situations of Russia died. The mine rescuers, like the miners, did their duty to the end. We grieve immensely for the dead miners and rescuers. This is a huge tragedy for the whole country and for the Russian Emergencies Ministry. On my own behalf and on behalf of the entire EMERCOM of Russia team, I express my deep and sincere condolences to the families and friends of the dead miners and rescuers. Their names will forever remain in our memory," Chupriyan said.

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