November 18th, 2007 02:01 EST
Ukraine mine blast, 19+ dead
A methane gas explosion has killed at least nineteen in a mine in the Ukrainian town of Donetsk. Eleven others, who were at the site, are missing. Around 460 people were in the mine at the time, and they are being evacuated now.
"The blast happened at about three o clock in the morning. 296 miners were evacuated and we still have to evacuate the others. A special emergency team is at the scene as well as dozens of emergency services rescuers," the head of Ukraine's Emergencies Ministry press-service explained.
Mining is considered one of the most dangerous industries. In 2007 alone there were three accidents in Russian mines. Two of them involved a single company - Yuzhkuzbassugol.
The first and the deadlier occurred in March at the Ulyanovskaya mine on the outskirts of Novokuznetsk in the Kemerovo region. 110 lives were lost when new safety equipment malfunctioned. An investigation concluded that its methane control system had been tampered with in order to increase the volume of production.
The second explosion took place just two months later in the nearby Yubileynaya mine owned by the same company. 38 lives were lost when methane gas exploded 520 meters below ground.
At the time the governor of the region demanded a change of management and ownership and even called for a revoking of the company's license. But that did not happen because of the number of jobs that would have been lost.
However, in June, after pressure from the governor, the control of the company switched to Evraz Holding.
In the same month another explosion claimed the lives of ten miners in the Komsomolskaya mine in Vorkuta region. Again, methane gas was to blame.
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