80 Dead, 20 Missing in Ukraine

Hope dwindles for missing miners as death toll mounts
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 19, 2007 5:09 PM CST
President of Ukraine Viktor Yushchenko , right, is seen with miners at the Zasyadko coal mine in the eastern Ukrainian city Donetsk, Monday, Nov, 19, 2007. Rescuers struggled against flames and fallen...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Rescuers today battled the fiery remnants of a deadly coal mine blast in Ukraine as the death toll was revised upward to at least 80, Reuters reports. Twenty miners are still missing, and given the intense temperatures and lack of air, chances of survival are slim. The explosion is the deadliest accident since Ukraine gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.

Family members of those still missing endured 24 hours without updates as high temperatures, smoke and blockages in the mine hindered rescue attempts. Thirty miners are hospitalized, and funerals for 20 will take place tomorrow, when the country will observe a day of mourning. President Viktor Yushchenko toured the mine and called the disaster "a humiliation for everyone."