Russia mine blasts kill 36 people
Fourth powerful explosion hits mine, fire continues
A SERIES of explosions at the Severnaya coal mine in Vorkuta, northern Russia, has killed 36 people, both miners and rescuers, with a fourth explosion happening late on 28 February.
Russian news agency TASS reports that the first two explosions on the afternoon of 25 February, happened at a depth of 780 m, when 111 miners were at work. The blasts caused a collapse of rock and fires started. While 81 miners were carried to the surface over the following few hours, four died and a further 26 remained unaccounted for. Six of the rescued miners required hospital treatment.
On 28 February, a third explosion occurred during rescue attempts, killing another mine worker and five rescuers. The 26 miners have not been heard from since and are presumed dead by Russian authorities. Rescue efforts have been called off. The fourth explosion took place on 28 February at 22:24 local time. Acting chief of the militarised mine rescue units of Russia’s Emergencies Ministry Vladlen Aksenov told TASS that it was twice as powerful as the third explosion, although no one was hurt.
According to TASS, Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich said in a meeting with Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev on 29 February that the accident would have been impossible to prevent. Russia’s industrial safety watchdog Rostekhnadzor and the investigating committee have released initial findings that show there was a sudden spike in methane in the mine, rather than a gradual increase, that could not have been picked up by sensors in time. All subsequent actions at the mine were “according to the rules”.
Rostekhnadzor told TASS on 28 February that it considers the accident to be a “natural disaster of mining and geological nature”.
“The work is underway to close the mine shafts to reduce the level of oxygen and the subsequent injection of nitrogen to stop the fire in the mine. After that the decisions about the mine’s future will be taken,” Dvorkovich said.
Restoration work at the mine, if it is possible, is likely to take several months, he added, but in the meantime miners will be found jobs at neighbouring mines.