26 miners feared dead in Russia coal mine blast

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Moscow, Feb 28 (IANS) At least 26 miners were feared dead in a coal mine blast in Russia’s Komi republic with the country’s Emergency Situations Ministry declaring on Sunday that there were no chances of survival of those trapped underground.

Denis Paikin, a technical director of the Vorkutaugol Mining Corporation that operates the Severnaya mine, said assessment of the current situation showed that people trapped in the mine could not survive, Tass reported.

A methane explosion at the Severnaya mine on Thursday triggered two blasts and rock collapse followed by a fire.

Because of the first explosion, of the 111 coal miners underground, four were killed while 26 others were trapped.

A third blast happened early Sunday during a search and rescue operation, killing five rescuers and a miner.

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According to Russian Emergency Situations Minister Vladimir Puchkov, the third blast sharply worsened the situation.

“Data show there are high temperatures and no oxygen in the area of the underground space where the 26 coal miners were staying. This section was the epicentre of the third explosion,” Puchkov said.

“The circumstances in the affected part of the mine did not allow anyone to survive.”

After the third blast, the rescue work immediately stopped as experts said there were high possibilities for new explosions in the mine.

Puchkov ordered experts and technicians to prepare a new report evaluating the situation of the coal mine after the third blast.

The ministry said the series of blasts in the coal mine were presumably caused by methane.

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The Komi Republic on Sunday declared three days of public mourning for those killed.

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