Russia mine disaster toll rises to 52; Putin for probe

The death toll in Siberian coalmine blasts has risen to 52, as PM Putin has sought a thorough probe .

Moscow: The death toll in twin methane
blasts in a Siberian coalmine has risen to 52 with more bodies
recovered from the shaft, even as Prime Minister Vladimir
Putin has sought a thorough probe into the incident described
as the worst such disaster in Russia`s recent history.
"We have recovered bodies of five more miners.
So the latest toll of the tragedy stands at 52. Fate of
another 38 miners is unclear," a spokesman of Emergencies
Situations Ministry was quoted as saying by ITAR-TASS.

Russia`s largest and most modern "Raspadskaya"
coalmine in Mezhdurechensk of in Siberian region of Kemerovo
was hit by a methane blast late on Saturday night, four hours
later on Sunday when 20 rescuers were already on the job
inside the mine another powerful methane blast rocked causing
extensive damage also to buildings on the surface.

Prime Minister Putin, who arrived in the region this
morning, demanded a thorough probe.

"I call for a thorough investigation into the
circumstances of the tragedy," dressed in black Putin said in
his televised comments.

He said he wanted inspections of safety and rescue
equipment, as well as an investigation into the actions of the
Raspadskaya Coal Company that runs the mine.
"We need to know the reasons that led to such a
large death toll," he was quoted as saying by RIA Novosti.

Earlier on Monday, President Dmitry Medvedev had
appointed a high-level probe headed by Deputy Prime Minister
Viktor Zubkov.

According to Moscow-based BFM business radio the
stocks of Raspadskaya Coal Company dropped by 15 per cent at
Moscow bourses amid fears of massive losses and compensation
demands by its clients.