Thirty three miners are now confirmed dead after an explosion at a coal mine in the rebel-held Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine, indicating that no-one trapped in the rubble survived.
The pit lies near the battle front where pro-Russian separatists have
opposed Ukrainian government forces.
But as distraught families gathered to learn the fate of their loved ones – 230 miners were underground at the time of the blast – officials said it was probably caused by gas and not linked to the fighting.
Zasyadko mine has a history of fatal accidents and past victims lie in a cemetery nearby. A blast in 2007 killed more than 100 people.
Badly injured but still alive, one escapee relived the terrifying moment he found himself caught up in the pit’s latest tragedy.
Miner Ivan Lazarenko spoke as he lay in his hospital bed, his face covered in cuts and burns.
He said there was a bang.
“And then it threw me so hard that I flew for three or four metres.
Immediately there was heat – the temperature rose, and here are the
consequences. And then the temperature dropped a little, and
slowly we started crawling out.”
As medical staff do what they can for the living in hospital, Kyiv complained that the rebels in charge of the region had refused to allow government teams to take part in rescue efforts at the mine.