5 March, 2015Following rescue operations overnight, the bodies of 14 dead miners have been recovered from the Zasyadko mine in the Donetsk region of Ukraine after an explosion on 4 March. Another 19 miners are still missing.
***UPDATE***On 5 March at 7 pm the rescue operations have been stopped after the last body out of 33 killed by the gas explosion miners was found and removed from the Zasyadko mine.
On 6 March one more miner died in hospital from his burns bringing the death toll to 34.
Rescue operations had reportedly been put on hold because of a broken ventilation system and an increased level of methane that could have lead to another explosion in the area.
As soon as the mine's ventilation system had been repaired, rescue operations resumed overnight and the search for the missing miners continues.
A gas explosion at the depth of 1230 meters occurred in the Zasyadko mine early in the morning of 4 March. Some 230 miners were working underground at the time. According to Mikhail Volynets, President of the Independent Trade Union of Coal Miners of Ukraine - an IndustriALL Global Union affiliate, 16 miners were injured and sent to hospital, five of them with burns.
Viktor Turmanov from the Coal Mining Workers’ Union of Ukraine, revealed that "Eleven Ukrainian rescue brigades were sent to the mine from the territory controlled by the Ukrainian government, but were denied access to the mine which is 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, as Volynets explains: "The local mine rescue teams are poorly equipped and have no capacity to perform their tasks effectively and in full."
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.”
For years, the Zasyadko mine has been renowned for its poor safety standards. 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, 55 mineworkers died, later in 2002 some 20 and in 2006 another 13 miners lost their lives.