Blast hits Russia`s largest coal mine, 11 dead

A methane explosion tore through Russia`s largest underground coal mine, killing 11 workers.

Updated: May 09, 2010, 10:41 AM IST

Moscow: A methane explosion tore through Russia`s largest underground coal mine Saturday, killing 11 workers and injuring 41 others, a regional emergency services ministry official said.

A second blast early Sunday morning forced authorities to halt rescue operations when contact with 20 rescuers was lost, the ITAR-Tass news agency reported.

The second blast destroyed the main air shaft and caused more injuries, and there is a risk of more explosions, Aman Tuleyev, the governor of the west Siberian region of Kemerovo, who is at the site, told reporters.

"The rescue work will continue when the atmosphere in the mine is restored, but to conduct rescue work now means to send people to die," Tuleyev told ITAR-Tass.

Heavy machines are removing the obstructions in the air shaft, and specialists are organizing air supply into the mine, Tuleyev said.

Of the 312 miners who were below ground at the time of Saturday`s first blast, 66 remained about four hours after the explosion as rescue workers tried to bring them out, said Valery Korchagin, a spokesman for the Emergencies Ministry in Kemerovo.

Later, after the second explosion, ITAR-Tass reported that by 3:30 a.m. (local time) 295 miners had been brought out of the mine, and 54 miners and 20 rescuers remained underground.

The mine, the Raspadskaya, produces about 8 million tons (8.8 million short tons) of coal a year, according to the company`s website.

The Kemerovo region is about 300 kilometers (190 miles) east of Moscow.

There was no immediate information on what set off the blast. Mine explosions and other industrial accidents are common in Russia and other ex-Soviet republics, and are often blamed on inadequate implementation of safety precautions by companies or by workers themselves.

In December, nine people were killed in an explosion at an iron-roe mine in the Urals Mountains region that was blamed on faulty transportation of explosives.

Suicide bomber attacks Russia military base

A suicide attacker detonated a car bomb near a military base in the southern Russian region of Dagestan on Sunday, Interfax news agency reported, quoting an unnamed military official.

There were no immediate reports of casualties.

Police were on alert for possible attacks ahead of Sunday`s celebrations of the 65th anniversary of the Soviet victory in World War Two.

Bureau Report