At least 52 people have been killed in a Siberian coal mine fire caused by a gas leak, Russia’s TASS news agency said. informed of Thursday.
There were about 285 people at the Listvyaznaya mine in Belovo, Siberia, when a fire broke out on Thursday, filling the mine with smoke, The Associated Press reports, Most were evacuated, but dozens went underground in a remote part of the mine.
The rescue operation was halted due to high levels of methane and carbon monoxide. According to the Interfax news agency. Six rescuers were among the dead.
The Russian investigative committee in the Kemerovo region said it would conduct a criminal investigation into possible violations of industrial safety requirements at hazardous production sites.
Prosecutors believe a methane explosion caused the fire, which then filled a ventilation shaft, Reuters reports, citing state television. According to Reuters and the AP, the director of the Listvyaznaya mine and two senior managers were arrested on suspicion of violating industrial safety regulations.
Kemerovo Governor Sergei Civiliev announced three days of mourning for the victims, TAS. According to news agency, meaning flags will be flown at half-mast, and all local entertainment programs and TV shows will be cancelled.
Dozens of miners were being treated at a hospital on Thursday evening. Reuters described the incident as one of Russia’s worst mining disasters since the Soviet Union era.
The coal mine owner, the holding company SDS, part of the privately held Siberian Business Union, said TAS. a statement to that it would pay 2 million rubles, or approximately $26,780, with additional compensation to the families of those killed on a case-by-case basis.