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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

Friday, Oct. 24


SPIBA’s ongoing “Breakfast with the Director” series continues today, featuring Tomas Hajek, Managing Director of the Northwest Division at Danone Russia. Hajek will be discussing collaborations between businesses from different cultures. The meeting is at 9 a.m. at the Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel and all who wish to attend must confirm their participation by Oct. 23.


Get your gong on at “Sounds of the Universe,” a concert at the city planetarium this evening incorporating six different gongs to create relaxing songs that will transport you upwards into the stratosphere. Tickets are 700 rubles ($17).



Saturday, Oct. 25


AVA Expo, the eighth edition of the event revolving around all things pop culture, returns to Lenexpo this weekend. Geeks, nerds, dweebs and dorks will have their chance to talk science fiction and explore a variety of international pop culture. Tickets for the event can be purchased on their website at avaexpo.ru.



Sunday, Oct. 26


Zenit St. Petersburg returns home for the first time in nearly a month as they host Mordovia Saransk in a Russian Premier League game. Currently at the top of the league thanks to their undefeated start to the season, the northern club hopes to extend the gap between them and second-place CSKA Moscow and win the title for the first time in three years. Tickets are available at the stadium box office or on the club’s website.



Monday, Oct. 27


Today marks the end of the art exhibit “Neophobia” at the Erarta Museum. Artists Alexey Semichov and Andrei Kuzmin took a neo-modernist approach to represent the array of fears that are ever-present throughout our lives. Tickets are 200 rubles ($4.90).



Tuesday, Oct. 28


The Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel plays host to SPIBA’s Marketing and Communications Committee’s round table discussion on “Government Relations Practices in Russia” this morning. The discussion starts at 9:30 a.m. and participation must be confirmed by Oct. 24.



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