Russian mine search halted, death toll reaches 66
The search for 24 men still missing after Siberian mine disaster has been halted due to fears of new underground blasts.
Moscow: The search for 24 men still missing after a Siberian mine disaster that killed at least 66 was halted on Thursday because of fears of new underground blasts, Russian media quoted emergency officials as saying.
Authorities have said a methane gas blast ripped through the Raspadskaya mine late on Saturday, followed hours later by a stronger explosion that wrecked the mine`s main ventilation shaft and badly damaged buildings on the surface.
"Conditions in the mine have worsened. The gas build-up has increased in some areas," Emergencies Ministry official Pavel Plat was quoted as saying by Itar-Tass news agency.
"The search operation has been suspended for this reason."
The bodies of six miners were brought to the surface overnight, taking the confirmed death toll to 66, the emergency officials said.
The disaster at the mine in the city of Mezhdurechensk, some 3,000 km (1,850 miles) east of Moscow, was the deadliest in a Russian mine since 110 people were killed by a methane blast at another mine in the coal-rich Kemerovo region in March 2007.