Russian reports say 52 dead in Siberian coal mine fire

Source: Associated Press

Russian news agencies say a fire at a Siberian coal mine has killed 52 miners and rescuers.

Rescuers walk at the Listvyazhnaya coal mine out of the Siberian city of Kemerovo.

Officials previously said that rescuers found 14 bodies and the search for 38 people missing was halted for safety reasons, because of a buildup of explosive methane gas and a high concentration of toxic fumes from the fire.

The state Tass and RIA-Novosti news agencies cited emergency officials as saying that there was no chance of finding any survivors.

The Interfax news agency cited a representative of the regional administration who also put the death toll from the fire at 52.

A total of 285 people were in the Listvyazhnaya mine in the Kemerovo region of southwestern Siberia when a fire erupted and smoke quickly filled the mine through the ventilation system. Rescuers led to the surface 239 miners, 49 of whom were injured.

Russia's Investigative Committee has launched a criminal probe into the fire over violations of safety regulations that led to deaths. It said the mine director and two senior managers were detained.

President Vladimir Putin extended his condolences to the families of the dead and ordered the government to offer all necessary assistance to those injured.

In 2016, 36 miners were killed in a series of methane explosions in a coal mine in Russia's far north. In the wake of the incident, authorities analyzed the safety of the country's 58 coal mines and declared 20 of them, or 34%, potentially unsafe.

The Listvyazhnaya mine wasn't among them at the time, according to media reports.

Russia’s state technology and ecology watchdog, Rostekhnadzor, inspected the mine in April and registered 139 violations, including breaching fire safety regulations.