Rescuers have found a survivor after an explosion at a mine in Siberia left 52 dead in what appears to have been Russia’s deadliest mine accident in more than a decade.
The man pulled out of the mine shaft was a rescuer who had been presumed dead, reports said.
Sergei Tsivilyov, governor of the Kemerovo region where the mine is located, said on the messaging app Telegram that the survivor had been hospitalized.
A total of 52 people are presumed dead after the explosion early on November 25 at the Listvyazhnaya mine in southwestern Siberia. A total of 285 miners were in the shaft at the time of the explosion.
The Emergency Situations Ministry said hundreds of miners were successfully evacuated from the mine after the blast in a shaft that is about 250 meters deep.
Hours after a methane-gas explosion and fire filled the mine with toxic fumes on November 25, rescuers were forced to halt the search because of a buildup of methane and carbon-monoxide gas from the fire.
Regional officials have declared three days of mourning and Russia’s Investigative Committee has launched a criminal probe into the fire over violations of safety regulations that led to deaths. It said the mine director and two senior managers were detained.
Another criminal probe was launched on November 26 into the alleged negligence of state officials that inspected the mine earlier this month.
Inspections at the mine in 2020 and 2021 reportedly uncovered dozens of safety violations at the mine, some of them serious.
The mine is owned by SDS-Ugol, one of Russia’s largest coal companies.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on November 25 that Russian President Vladimir Putin had extended his condolences to the families of the miners who lost their lives.
“The president instructed the regional governor [Tsivilyov] and acting Emergency Situations Minister Aleksandr Chupriyan to arrange assistance for the injured and make every possible effort to continue the rescue operation,” Peskov said.
It appears to have been the deadliest mine accident in Russia since 2010, when two methane explosions and a fire killed 91 people at the Raspadskaya mine in the same Kemerovo region.
In 2016, 36 miners were killed in a series of methane explosions in a coal mine in Russia’s far north. In the wake of the incident, authorities analyzed the safety of the country’s 58 coal mines and declared 20 of them potentially unsafe.
The Listvyazhnaya mine, which was opened in 2003, wasn’t on the list at the time, according to media reports.
But TASS reports that in 2021 an audit of the regional department of Rostekhnadzor revealed nearly 140 violations in the operation of the Listvyazhnaya mine. Violations were identified in ventilation systems and fire response.
According to Siberia.Realities, watchdog Rostekhnadzor identified 18 serious safety violations at the facility.