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52 Miners and Rescuers Die After Methane Gas Explosion

Siberian officials say there's no chance of finding more survivors
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 25, 2021 1:20 PM CST
Updated Nov 25, 2021 4:15 PM CST
Smoke Kills 11 Miners, 3 Rescuers Who Followed
Ambulances and fire trucks are parked Thursday near the Listvyazhnaya coal mine, about 1,900 miles east of Moscow.   (Governor of Kemerovo Region press office photo via AP)

(Newser) Update: This file has been updated throughout with new information about casualties and details of the explosion.
A devastating blast in a Siberian coal mine Thursday left 52 miners and rescuers dead about 820 feet underground, Russian officials said. Hours after a methane gas explosion and fire filled the mine with toxic fumes, rescuers found 14 bodies but then were forced to halt the search for 38 others because of a buildup of methane and carbon monoxide gas from the fire. Another 239 people were rescued, the AP reports. The state Tass and RIA-Novosti news agencies cited emergency officials as saying that there was no chance of finding any more survivors in the Listvyazhnaya mine, which is in the Kemerovo region of southwestern Siberia.

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The Interfax news agency reported that the cause of death was carbon monoxide poisoning. It was the deadliest mine accident in Russia since 2010, when two methane explosions and a fire killed 91 people at the Raspadskaya mine in the same Kemerovo region. A total of 285 people were in the Listvyazhnaya mine early Thursday when the blast sent smoke that quickly filled the mine through the ventilation system. Rescuers led to the surface 239 miners, 49 of whom were injured, and found 11 bodies. Later in the day, six rescuers also died while searching for others trapped in a remote section of the mine, the news reports said.

A Russian official told reporters that the fire most likely resulted from a methane explosion caused by a spark. The survivors described their shock after reaching the surface. "Impact. Air. Dust. And then, we smelled gas and just started walking out, as many as we could," said Sergey Golubin. "We didn't even realize what happened at first and took some gas in." Another miner, Rustam Chebelkov, recalled the dramatic moment when he was rescued along with his comrades as chaos engulfed the mine. “I was crawling and then I felt them grabbing me," he said. "I reached my arms out to them, they couldn’t see me, the visibility was bad. They grabbed me and pulled me out, if not for them, we'd be dead." (Read more coal mine stories.)

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