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At least 33 dead, 67 missing in Ukraine mine blast

At least 33 dead, 67 missing in Ukraine mine blast

A methane explosion ripped through a colliery in Ukraine's Donbass coalfield yesterday, killing at least 33 miners and leaving 67 missing in underground shafts engulfed by fire and smoke.
Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich announced the latest toll after flying to Donetsk, his native region, to assess the latest of a string of accidents in Donbass's outdated mines.
He said a fire burned unchecked more than 1,000 meters underground at the city's Zasyadko pit.
"So far it has been established that 33 miners have died. There are 67 more still underground. Their fate is unknown," Yanukovich told reporters after attending a meeting of a commission of inquiry into the accident.
"There is a blockage at the accident site formed by a cave-in, airshafts and water channels. This is being cleared. Fire and smoke remain in section 14. The fire is still burning."
It was unclear how many of those missing had been close to the explosion when it occurred at 3 a.m. (Ukraine time). Officials said 27 miners were in the hospital, one in a serious condition.
The figures put the accident among the worst since Ukraine secured independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.
Trade unionists said seven of the dead had been identified.
"There is thick smoke in the shafts and for the moment rescue teams are unable to go where they are needed," a trade union official at the mine, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said by telephone.
Weeping relatives waited for news outside the mine headquarters. Fifth Channel television showed survivors of the explosion in a hospital isolation ward.
Official statements said 457 miners were underground at the time of the accident. Dozens of rescue teams had brought more than 350 miners to the surface.


Updated : 2021-10-19 10:14 GMT+08:00