The Russian government has launched an investigation into a blast which killed 38 people in a Siberian coal mine, the second explosion in the region in just two months. Three-quarters of the 200 or so miners underground at the time managed to escape unharmed. However their colleagues were not so lucky and for family members desperate for news of their loved ones, the wait was agonising.
The exact cause of the latest blast is not yet known, but an almost identical incident in March killed 110 miners just 40 kilometres away. The Yubileynaya mine, scene of today’s tragedy, was owned by the same company which ran the other one, in the Kemerovo region of Siberia. It has 20 mines in the area. Now the Russian government has expressed its concern.
Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov described the incident as disturbing and unacceptable. “The Russian Industrial Safety Agency has already found some infractions in the running of the company responsible for this mine. It is a very serious problem,” he said.
The agency apparently tried to have Yubileynaya shut down for safety violations but was overruled by the local courts. The company’s operating licence could now be withdrawn, even though it had apparently taken steps to improve safety measures after the March explosion.