Ukrainian Mine Blast: 37 Missing
Jordan Yerman | June 8, 2008 at 11:23 amby
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So far, only unmanned gondolas have been sent down to find any survivors of a gas explosion that collapsed a mine in Yenakiyevo, Ukraine. Previously, the mine had beem lited as unsafe.
Thirty-seven miners were missing after a gas explosion tore through a pit in Ukraine's Donbass coalfield on Sunday, destroying the main shaft and complicating rescue attempts.
Officials said the blast hit the Karl Marx colliery near Donetsk in the heart of the coalfield at 2am GMT about 1km underground. Mining operations had been suspended and repair work was being carried out at the time.
Television pictures at the 110-year-old mine showed production machinery on the surface reduced to rubble. Windows were smashed and a gondola was overturned.
Marina Nikitina, spokesperson for the regional mine safety inspectorate, said 37 men were missing. Four staff on the surface suffered burns and had been hit by equipment thrown about by the blast.
"The shaft has been destroyed. It is impossible to go below," she said.
Coal Industry Minister Viktor Poltavets said rescue workers were trying to restore at least one of the shafts.
"All rescue teams are now engaged in trying to restore at least one shaft so that we can get down into the mine," he said on Ukrainian television.
The Karl Marx mine, in Yenakiyevo, north-east of Donetsk, was one of 23 where work had been suspended to check on documented safety violations and only restoration and repair work was permitted.
Reports from the region said such work was being conducted at the colliery on Sunday and dangerous concentrations of gas had been detected shortly before the blast.