MOSCOW – A devastating explosion at a coal mine in Siberia on Thursday left 52 miners and first responders dead about 250 meters (820 feet) underground, Russian authorities said.
Hours after a methane gas explosion and subsequent fire filled the mine with toxic gases, rescuers found 14 bodies, but they had to suspend the search for another 38 people due to an accumulation of methane and carbon monoxide as a result of the fire. Another 239 people were rescued.
Rescue workers ruled out the possibility of finding more survivors at the Listvyazhnaya mine, in Kemerovo region in southwestern Siberia, reported state news agencies Tass and RIA-Novosti.
A representative of the regional administration also set the death toll from Thursday’s accident at 52, and He attributed it to carbon monoxide poisoning, according to Interfax news agency.
It was the worst mining accident in Russia since 2010, when two methane explosions and a fire killed 91 people in the Raspadskaya mine, also in the Kemerovo region.
A total of 285 people were working early on Thursday at the Listvyazhnaya mine when the explosion generated smoke that quickly flooded the mine through the ventilation system.. Rescuers took 239 miners, 49 of whom were injured, to the surface and found 11 bodies.