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At Least 17 People Killed In Komi Mine Explosion

Published: February 13, 2013 (Issue # 1746)


MOSCOW — A pocket of methane gas exploded in a coal mine in the far northern Komi republic on Monday morning, killing at least 17 miners.

The blast at the Vorkutinskaya mine, owned by steel giant Severstal, occurred at 10:28 a.m. at a depth of about 800 meters, the Emergency Situations Ministry said.

Authorities cited differing numbers of fatalities from the explosion. Emergency officials said that 23 miners were in the area of the explosion and that 17 died and one was missing. Federal investigators said that in addition to the fatalities, two miners were injured in the blast.

A total of about 250 workers were in other areas of the mine at the time of the explosion and were evacuated, local prosecutors said.

According to prosecutors, the blast was caused by a high concentration of methane, a combustible gas.

The explosion was at least the second fatal accident at a Russian mine in the past month. On Jan. 20, methane exploded in a mine in the Kuzbass coal basin in western Siberia, killing four workers.

Accidents at mines and industrial facilities in Russia are not uncommon, due to frequently lax compliance with safety rules and deteriorating Soviet-era infrastructure.

President Vladimir Putin expressed his condolences to the families of the workers killed in Monday’s blast and ordered Emergency Situations Minister Vladimir Puchkov to fly to the scene of the accident.

Puchkov took off for the town of Vorkuta from Moscow at 3:30 p.m. on Monday with a team of physicians and psychologists to manage the fallout, the Emergency Situations Ministry said in a statement. It said 287 people and 79 machines were being employed in the cleanup and rescue efforts.

Puchkov said the families of those who died would each receive 2 million rubles ($66,000).

Komi republic head Vyacheslav Gaizer also flew to the scene on Monday afternoon from the regional capital, Syktyvkar, Interfax reported.

The Investigative Committee said in a statement that it suspected the blast was caused by a violation of safety standards, and had opened a criminal investigation into the accident.

Local prosecutors said in a statement that they would monitor the investigation and had initiated a check into the mine’s compliance with labor and industrial safety rules.

The Vorkutinskaya mine, which began operations in 1973, takes its name from its location in the town of Vorkuta, situated on a river about 150 kilometers from the Arctic Ocean.

The mine with an annual output of 1.8 million tons of coal belongs to the company Vorkutaugol, which is owned by Severstal.

In 2011, the Vorkutinskaya mine was given an award for having the best labor conditions of any facility in the Komi republic, RIA-Novosti reported.





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Thursday, July 24


Liliana Modiliani, a well-known Russian stylist, will talk about choosing clothes that fit during her lecture at 7 p.m. at the Pryamoy Efir art club, 13 Viborgskoe Shosse.



Friday, July 25


Discuss Russia’s economic and political prospects for 2014 during a Business Breakfast organized by SPIBA at 9.30 a.m. in the Bank Saint-Petersburg office at 64


Malookhtinsky Prospekt.


Start your weekend with adorable miniature pigs at the Squealing Pig festival at 7 p.m. this evening in the Karl & Friedrich restaurant, 15 Iozhnaya doroga, on Krestovsky Island.



Saturday, July 26


Hundreds of brand-new and retro cars, drag and drift shows, test drives and karting are planned for the Avtobum-2014 festival, which will take place in front of the RIO shopping center at 2 Fuchika Ulitsa.


Participants in today’s SaniDay Summer competition will impress visitors with their hand-made, unusual and hilarious boats, which will race at the Igora Resort near the 54th kilometer on Priozerskoe Shosse.


Metro Family Day will include both serious lectures for adults and master-classes for children, making the event interesting for the whole family. To participate, come to Kirov Park on Yelagin Island.


Photography will be the focus of today’s Photosubbota, which features lectures by famous photographers, meetings with photo schools and studio representatives, and participation in a photography competition. The event starts at noon at Petrokongress, 5 Lodeynopolskaya Ulitsa.


If you like cycling, make sure to visit the Za Velogorod Festival with its retro bike exhibition, market and live music. The second round of the Leningrad Criterium race will also take place during the event at Petrovsky Arsenal in Sestroretsk.



Sunday, July 27


Navy Day will be celebrated with a weapon and military transportation exhibition, self-defense master classes and concerts. The event starts at 1 p.m. in the 300th Anniversary Park of St. Petersburg.



Monday, July 28


Don’t miss a chance to see the latest achievements in robotics during the RoboDom interactive show, exhibiting more than 150 robots. The show will be at BUM center, 22/2 Gzhatskaya Ulitsa, until Aug. 3. The entrance ticket costs 350 rubles ($10).



Tuesday, July 29


A video of a Queen concert from 1986 will be shown today at 8 p.m. in Yaschik, 50/13 Ligovsky Prospekt.



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