Coal mine fire in Russia’s Siberia kills 11, dozens trapped

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Russian officials say 11 people have been killed and more than 40 injured in a fire at a coal mine in Siberia

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MOSCOW: A fire at a coal mine in Russia’s Siberia on Thursday killed 11 people and injured more than 40, with dozens still trapped.

The fire started in the Kemerovo region of south-western Siberia. Russia’s state Tass news agency, citing an unnamed emergency official, reported that coal dust started the fire, and that smoke quickly filled the Litsyaznaya mine through a ventilation system.

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A total of 285 people were in the mine at the time of the incident – 239 of them have been evacuated and 46 other miners are still trapped underground, Kemerovo Governor Sergei Tsivilov said on his page on the messaging app Telegram. “43 people have been hospitalized with injuries, four of whom are in critical condition,” Tsivilov said.

Earlier on Thursday, Russia’s acting minister for emergency situations, Alexander Chupriyan, said 44 miners had been hospitalized with injuries. The difference in the injured tolls reported by different authorities could not be resolved immediately.

Efforts are still on to save the rest due to the huge amount of smoke.

Russia’s investigative committee has launched a criminal investigation into the fire that caused the deaths, alleging safety violations.

Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that President Vladimir Putin expressed condolences to the families of the miners killed on Thursday and ordered the government to provide all necessary assistance to the injured.

In 2016, 36 miners were killed in a series of methane explosions at a coal mine in Russia’s far north. In the wake of the incident, officials analyzed the safety of 58 coal mines in the country and declared 20 or 34% of them potentially unsafe.

According to media reports, the Listvyaznaya mine in the Kemerovo region at that time was not among them.

The latest inspection of the mine took place on 19 November, Interfax news agency reported, citing officials from Russia’s state technology and ecology watchdog Rostekhnadzor. The report did not provide any details on the results of the inspection.

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