Criminal investigation launched into coal mine that killed more than 50 people

A criminal investigation has been launched into the explosion at a coal mine in Southern Russia that has already killed more than 50 people. “Those responsible must be punished,” President Vladimir Putin declared Saturday in an address to the nation, which was expected to have more information on the accident on Sunday.

The disaster has already sent shockwaves through Russia’s mining industry, where fatalities are not uncommon. But the mine in Russia’s Sakha Republic has a bleak history of catastrophic accidents. It was only a few months ago that the Sakha Republic’s Health Ministry investigated another mine there, and concluded that it could not be considered fit for mining due to an “adverse environmental situation,” according to Bloomberg.

The accident in the mine owned by the Valpozovo Mining Company happened on Saturday afternoon when a surge of methane and carbon monoxide entered the mine, and the explosion went off. One survivor told investigators that the mine workers immediately tried to signal for help when they realized they were in trouble, but were forced to stand still as they were burned alive by the gas.

The VOA reports that the governor of Sakha republic, Dzhanar Mladenov, demanded that authorities search for traces of methane or other dangerous gas. Officials from the miner’s company have also been detained, and are being questioned by the Russian emergency officials. The machine used to fuel the mine fire has also been recalled.

Officials have so far said that 51 people have been confirmed dead, with 37 still buried alive in the mine’s shaft. The president’s comments come a month after Russian state prosecutors launched an investigation into a mine operator after a worker suffered a life-threatening head injury. Some have pointed out that there has been little enforcement of safety regulations in Russia, despite Putin’s attempts to bring increased transparency to mining operations.

Read the full story at The Guardian.


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