A total of 36 people were killed at a coal mine in Russia's far north where a methane gas leak triggered three explosions that resulted in a raging fire and the collapse of the mine, officials said Sunday. The dead include five rescue workers and a miner who were killed early Sunday when the third explosion rocked the mine in Vorkuta, a town north of the Arctic Circle in the Komi region, emergency services said. The first two explosions struck late Thursday, killing four miners and trapping 26 others. Denis Paikin, technical director of mine operator Vorkutaugol, said Sunday that given the level of gas in the mine, the degree of destruction and the trajectory of the fire, which continued to rage, all of the missing miners were presumed dead.
At the time of the blast, 110 miners were underground and 80 were rescued. Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich, who visited the mine on Sunday, said federal investigators had drawn preliminary conclusions about the cause of the accident but were not yet ready to release their findings, Russian news agencies reported.