The most heavily wounded of the recent blasts in the Siberian Raspadskaya
mine, in the Kemerovo region, have been
transported to hospitals in the Russian
60 dead in the Russian Raspadskaya mine blasts
May 12, 2010. Source:
Moscow, Russia -- The death toll from a Russian coal mine accident has reached 60, with 30 people still missing, the Russian Emergency Situations Ministry said Wednesday.
Rescue teams have combed more than 75 percent of the mine's labyrinth of underground tunnels looking for survivors and the dead.
"We have about 24 hours left to rescue miners (who are alive), if they are still there," emergency Minister Sergei Shoigu said on the ministry's website.
The gas explosion in the Raspadskaya mine occurred at 8:55 p.m. Saturday (12:55 p.m. ET), when 359 people were working at the time. The mine is located near the western Siberian town of Mezhdurechensk, more than 2,300 miles east of Moscow. Nearly 300 people were evacuated shortly after the explosion.
More than 50 rescue workers had gone into the mine to recover the rest of the victims when a second gas explosion rocked the structure about four-and-a-half hours later, causing more fatalities and destruction, officials said. Dozens of miners and rescue workers were trapped as a result of that second, much more powerful explosion, and all communications with them were disrupted.
Thick smoke and high methane concentrations in the mine prevented active rescue operations underground on Sunday and most of Monday morning, Russian officials said.
The operation was further complicated by the very size of the mine: Raspadskaya is one of the largest in Russia's mining industry. It has dozens of underground tunnels with a total length of almost 200 miles, according to Kemerovo Gov. Aman Tuleyev.
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said on Russian state television Tuesday that the investigation is closely analyzing all possible clues to determine the cause of the blasts.
The victims' families will be paid 1 million rubles (more than $33,000) in moral damages, and underage children of those killed in the accident will be paid a pension of 10,000 rubles (more than $330) every month until they reach the age of 18, the Russian government decided Tuesday.
Raspadskaya OJSC mine
Founded in 1973, Raspadskaya is now one of the leading coal producers in Russia.
Raspadskaya is a compact integrated coal mining and enrichment complex located in the Kemerovo region of the Russian Federation. Raspadskaya's license area is part of a very extensive coal field south-west of Tom-Usinsk area of the Kuznetsk coal basin which itself accounts for about three quarters of the total coking coal production in Russia.
Raspadskaya's total resources were estimated at 1,461 million tons and total coal reserves at 782 million ton (JORC standards, according to IMC Consulting report as of June 2006, of which 22 million tons produced by 31 March 2008). Based on the volume produced in 2007,
the reserves-to-production ratio amounts to about 55 years of production.
The goal of coal mining is to economically remove coal from the ground. Coal is valued for its energy content, and since the 1880s is widely used to generate electricity. Steel and cement industries use coal as a fuel for extraction of iron from iron ore and for cement production. In the United States, United Kingdom, and South Africa, a coal mine and its structures are a "colliery". In Australia, "colliery" generally refers to an underground coal mine.
Dangers to Miners
Historically, coal mining has been a very dangerous activity and the list of historical coal mining disasters is a long one. Open cut hazards are principally mine wall failures and vehicle collisions; underground mining hazards include suffocation, gas poisoning, roof collapse and gas explosions. Firedamp explosions can trigger the much more dangerous coal dust explosions, which can engulf an entire pit. Most of these risks can be greatly reduced in modern mines, and multiple fatality incidents are now rare in some parts of the developed world. Modern mining in the U.S. is only slightly more dangerous than driving, with .02% of miners dying in accidents, compared with .016% of the country's population dying in car accidents.
Interactive Satellite Map
Explore the Raspadskaya mine, Mezhdurechensk, Kemerovo region, Russia. Click the placemark. To Pan: click and drag or take advantage of the pan and zoom bars.