Russia: At least six dead, dozens missing after mine accident

At least six people were killed and about 50 were missing Thursday after an accident in a coal mine in Siberia, a new disaster that hits a regularly bereaved sector in Russia.

The authorities said they received an alert at around 8:35 am local time (1:35 GMT) on the presence of smoke in the Listviajnaya mine which is located in the town of Gramoteïno, in the Siberian region of Kemerovo, where many coal mines are located.

According to the press service of local governor Sergei Tsivilev, 285 people were in the mine at the time of the accident, the causes of which were not immediately known. “Rescue operations at the Listviajnaïa mine are underway. A total of 237 people were brought to the surface and 45 people were injured, ”the Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations told Telegram.

Unknown causes

“The forces and resources of the ministry are working on the spot,” continued this body, in particular in charge of firefighters and rescuers. The location of the missing “is not known at present,” said the local official of the ministry, Alexeï Choulguine, quoted by the TASS news agency.

An accident in the Listviajnaya mine had already taken place in October 2004, when a methane explosion killed 13 people. According to Russian media, an explosion also killed five people there in 1981, during Soviet times. The precise causes of Thursday’s crash were not immediately known.

Widespread laxity

According to the services of Governor Sergei Tsivilev, eleven specialized rescue teams from the ministry are on site and several others are on their way, in addition to a helicopter with doctors on board.

The local investigation committee specified for its part that an investigation for “violation of safety standards” had been launched. Accidents in mines in Russia, as elsewhere in the former USSR, are often linked to laxity in the application of safety standards, poor management or dilapidated equipment dating back to Soviet times.

The deadliest accident in recent years left 91 dead and more than 100 injured in May 2010 in the Raspadskaya mine, also in the Kemerovo region.