Briton among 75 dead and many missing in mine blast
A BRITON was among at least 75 people killed yesterday in a gas explosion at a Siberian mine, Russian authorities said last night.
They said the man and his interpreter died in the blast in Ulyanovskaya mine, which occurred at a depth of about 885ft. Methane was blamed for causing the explosion - the latest in a long list of tragedies to plague Russia's coal industry in recent years.
Sergei Cheremnov, a regional government spokesman, said company officials and safety experts, along with the Briton and his interpreter, were in the mine examining a British-made hazard-monitoring system just before the blast occurred.
He said at least 75 miners were killed, while 75 people had been rescued and 50 others were still missing.
Fourteen separate emergency teams were last night attempting to reach survivors trapped almost 900ft below ground as the death toll continued to mount.
Mr Cheremnov said it was not clear exactly what the British man, who was later confirmed dead, was doing in the mine.
A Foreign Office spokesman said they were currently unable to confirm any British casualties.
"We are investigating these reports with the British embassy in Moscow, who are in touch with the Russian authorities, but we cannot confirm British casualties at this time," he said.
A company spokesman, Eduard Sivtsov, said rescuers were checking a large section of the mine for survivors.
"Their work is complicated by a great number of obstructions," he said.
The huge explosion destroyed part of the tunnel network, further complicating rescue efforts.
"Just prior to the explosion, all of our equipment was recording normal levels of methane, but then it increased sharply," a spokesman for the operators said.
"It is a very tough situation down there," said Yuri Shchetinin, an ambulance worker. "There are lot of miners there. We will try to get them out."
Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, has ordered the emergency situations minister, Sergei Shoigu, to travel to the area, and the industrial regulatory agency Rostekhnadzor has sent investigators.
The massive mine in the city of Novokuznetsk is in a coal-rich swathe of south-central Siberia known as the Kuzbass. It lies about 1,850 miles east of Moscow.
Operators insisted the mine, which opened less than five years ago and produces about three million tonnes of coal per year, featured modern equipment.
In the past decade, hundreds of miners have died in at least ten similar incidents in the country. Already this year, there have been two fatal accidents, both caused by mine shafts collapses.
Russian news bulletins emphasised the efforts of emergency services at the site to reach trapped survivors.
But apart from the cluster of ambulances ferrying the dead and injured from the minehead, at the surface there were few outward signs of what had occurred.
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Wednesday 19 June 2013
Temperature: 9 C to 18 C
Wind Speed: 16 mph
Wind direction: West
Temperature: 12 C to 20 C
Wind Speed: 8 mph
Wind direction: North east