A gas leak at a Siberian coal mine killed at least 52 people on Thursday, including six rescuers who were rescued by dozens in one of Russia’s worst mining disasters since Soviet times, Russian news agencies said. The men were sent to try to get them out.
The regional investigative committee said that three people, including the director of the Listvyaznaya mine and his deputy, were arrested on suspicion of violating industrial safety rules.
It said the miners suffocated when a ventilation shaft filled with gas. State television said prosecutors believed the methane explosion occurred.
Among the dead, 11 miners have been confirmed dead, 35 are reported missing and six are rescuers.
Dozens of people were treated in the hospital, at least some of whom were inhaled by the smoke. Four were in critical condition.
The coal-producing region of Kemerovo, some 3,500 kilometers east of Moscow, has been plagued by fatal mining accidents for years.
The Listvyazhnaya mine is part of SDS-Holding, which is owned by the privately held Siberian Business Union. The owner had no immediate comment.
The Ministry of Emergency Situations said about 285 people were inside the mine when smoke spread through the ventilation shaft. Officials said 239 had made it to the surface.
President Vladimir Putin said he had spoken to the governor and emergency officials, and the Kremlin said he had ordered the emergency minister to fly to help in the area.
Kemerovo declared three days of mourning.
In 2007, the area was the site of the worst mining accident since the collapse of the Soviet Union, when an explosion at the Ulyanovskaya mine claimed more than 100 lives. in 2010, explosion More than 90 people died in the Raspadskaya mine of the region.