Coal mine explosion leaves more than 30 dead in rebel east Ukraine, local official says
Methane gas explosion hits notorious Zasyadko shaft in rebel-held Donetsk
More than 30 people are thought to be dead after a methane gas explosion at a notoriously dangerous coal mine in eastern Ukraine.
There were conflicting reports over the number of casualties but Vladimir Groysman, Ukraine’s parliament speaker, told MPs that 32 miners had been killed at the Zasyadko mine in rebel-held Donetsk.
Vladimir Tsymbalenko, head of the local mining safety service, also told Reuters that more than 30 people were killed. “Rescue workers have not yet come to the place of the explosion, they are removing the poisonous gas and then will go down,” he added.
Rebel media quoted a local emergencies ministry spokesperson saying that one miner had died and fourteen were injured after the explosion on Wednesday morning, with scores still trapped underground.
Ivan Prikhodko, a city official in Donetsk, told the DAN news agency: “All I can say at the moment is that 32 people are underground, and one person has died. Until the rescue workers reach them, to say they are dead is at the very least unethical.”
The Zasyadko mine was the scene of Ukraine’s worst mining accident in 2007, when 101 people died in a methane explosion. Fifty miners were killed and 40 injured in a similar explosion at the mine in 1999. Such blasts are a common occurrence in outdated shafts in the former Soviet Union.
Coal mining is one of the chief industries of the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine where pro-Russian rebels have been fighting government forces since April.
A ceasefire was signed at a summit of the leaders of Germany, France, Russia and Ukraine in Minsk, Belarus, on February 11, but sporadic fighting has continued.
Mines have been affected by power cuts and artillery strikes during the conflict.
In January, 500 miners at the Zasyadko shaft were briefly trapped underground after electricity transformers supplying it were hit by shelling.