Ukraine mine tragedy toll mounts

2011-07-29 17:16

Lugansk - A mining spokesperson said on Friday that 18 miners had died and another 20 were missing in two separate accidents at coal mines in the east of Ukraine, an industrial region notorious for its mining safety record.

At least 16 miners were killed instantly as a result of an explosion at the Sukhodolskaya-Vostochnaya coal mine in the eastern Lugansk region early on Friday, the emergencies ministry said.

Another three workers received burns and other injuries and were hospitalised. One of the injured died later of his wounds.

The spokesperson said: "The fate of nine miners remains unknown," adding that a total of 28 people had been working at the pit when the explosion occurred on Friday afternoon.

The Lugansk regional administration, citing preliminary information, said the accident had been caused by a methane explosion, which has caused most of the country's past mining disasters.

In a separate accident in the Makiyivka mine in the neighbouring Donetsk region, one person was killed, three hospitalised and 11 were missing, the emergencies ministry said.

The ministry said a 70m hoist, which is used to lower miners down into the mine and bring them up again, collapsed.

President Viktor Yanukovych interrupted his vacation and was expected at the Lugansk mine, which is part of the Krasnodonugol mining company, his spokesperson said.

The group Metinvest official said families of the miners killed in the blast would each receive $125 000.

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