The race is on to save 59 miners and rescue workers trapped underground at the Raspadskaya mine in Siberia.
31 people are now known to have died in the weekend’s double methane explosion, and time is running out to ensure that figure does not rise. But with some pumping systems out of action, the mine will flood in 48 hours.
300 miners did manage to escape, but the disaster is Russia’s worst mining accident in three years.
“The rescue workers begin penetrating into the shaft to lift the miners to the surface, or accompany them if they are by any chance alive. The possibility of finding people alive exists, but in 48h the shaft will be flooded, so…” said Aman Tuleev, the regional governor of Kemerovo.
Families await news, hoping against hope, but although ventilation systems have now been repaired to clear away methane so workers can resume rescue operations, fresh oxygen arriving underground adds to the risk of fresh explosions.
Chances of finding more survivors are slim.