A gas explosion at the depth of 1230 meters occurred in the Zasyadko mine in Donetsk region of Ukraine. At that moment some 230 miners were working underground.
The blast happened early on the morning of 4 March. According to the Independent Trade Union of Coal Miners of Ukraine, an IndustriALL affiliate, 16 miners were injured and sent to hospital, five of them with burns. Nine miners were reported dead. 23 miners are still missing.
Viktor Turmanov, Coal Mining Workers’ Union of Ukraine, explained that 11 Ukrainian rescue brigades have been sent to the mine from the territory controlled by the Ukrainian government, but were denied access to the mine located in the territory of the Donetsk province. The authorities of the province declared they were themselves capable to rescue people with their own means. However, according to Mikhail Volynets, Independent Trade Union of Miners of Ukraine, the local mine rescue teams are poorly equipped and have no capacity to perform their tasks effectively and in full.
Reportedly the rescue operations have been put on hold because of an increased level of methane that could lead to another explosion in the area.
15 coal mines out of 60 continue to operate in Donetsk region.
Zasyadko mine has been known for its poor safety standards for years. Back in 2007 the mine saw Ukraine's worst mining disaster, which left more than 100 people dead. Before that in 1999 some 50 miners died in an explosion. In 2001 some other 55 mineworkers died, later in 2002 some 20 and in 2006 another 13 miners lost their lives.
Kemal Özkan, IndustriALL assistant general secretary says,
Our most sincere condolences go to the families of the perished and injured workers. We expect that a proper investigation will be carried out and due conclusions will be taken out of this heart-breaking tragedy. However, based on the previous bad record and terrible death toll, at this particular mine the health and safety must be given paramount importance. The employer and the authorities must take it as their own personal responsibility and provide safe and healthy conditions of work. No miner should be sent to die at the workplace!”