At least 11 miners have been killed in a coal mine in Siberia, and dozens of other miners are still trapped underground. The rescue operations were stopped at noon (Thursday) due to fears of an explosion in the mine.
At around 08:35 (local time), a fire broke out in the ventilation shaft of the Listebizna mine in the Cameroon region of southwestern Siberia, about 3,500 km east of Moscow. The mine was filled with smoke, while there were 285 miners.
239 miners reportedly managed to escape from the mine. More than 40 of them were evacuated to the hospital following smoke inhalation. Four of them in critical condition. The regional governor, Sergei Tsibilev, said 11 miners were killed and another 35 trapped. A source involved in the rescue operations said the operation was “temporarily halted due to fears of an explosion.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered the Minister of Emergencies to take off for the disaster area. Putin spoke with the regional governor and emergency officials, saying the disaster was the result of “blatant misfortune.” He added: “Unfortunately the situation is not improving, and there is danger to the lives of the rescuers. We hope they can save as many people as possible.” Russia has opened an investigation into the fire, which is reportedly covered in coal ash.