36 people, including rescue personnel, have been killed by three explosions on 25 and 28 February, at the Severnaya coalmine in Vorkuta, Russia.
On 25 February, two explosions rocked the Severnaya mine at a depth of around 748 meters, where 110 miners were working at the time. Leaking methane gas is thought to have caused the explosions.
Following the accident 80 miners were safely brought up to the surface. The same day, two workers were found dead and two more bodies were discovered the following morning.
With 26 miners remaining trapped underground, a massive rescue operation involving more than 500 rescue workers, searched for the missing workers until 28 February when there was a third explosion. Six people were killed during the rescue operation, which has now been halted as there is still a fire and a risk of new explosions.
According to a statement from the company management and Russia’s Emergency Situations Ministry the missing 26 miners are presumed dead, bringing the total death toll of the tragedy to 36 people. A three-day mourning period has been declared in the region.
IndustriALL Global Union general secretary Jyrki Raina said:
“We are deeply shocked and saddened by the news of the 36 miners killed in this tragic accident. The mining industry is claiming yet more victims and we express our condolences to the families of the miners.”
IndustriALL affiliate Rosugleprof expressed its condolences to the families, and president Ivan Mochnachuk said:
“We are providing support and help to the victims’ families. We will take the necessary steps to find out the reasons of this tragedy, to prevent such tragedies in the future and to minimize the consequences of accident on Severnaya mine.”
A special governmental investigation commission led by Arkadii Dvorkovich, Vice Prime Minister of Russia has been established.
Payments of around 1 million rubles (aroubd US$13,000) to the victims’ families are being one from the regional budget. Additional insurance payments also will be made according to a Federal Industry Agreement between Rosugleprof and the Association of Employers of Coal Mining Industry.
The Severnaya mine is part of Vorkutaugol, a coal mining company owned by Russia’s steel and mining giant Severstal.