Mine disaster leaves 52 dead including heroes who rushed to save trapped miners

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Fifty-two people – including three rescue workers – have died in a tragic mine disaster following an explosion at the site.

Rescuers tried to recover missing miners trapped after a mine disaster in Siberia today.

But scores of men died after becoming trapped underground at the Listvyazhnaya mine, in the Kemerovo region some 2,175 miles east of Moscow.

The accident happened when coal dust ignited in a ventilation shaft, according to the Russian state news agency Tass.

Locals were praying for a “miracle” to bring the missing men out alive.

But searches by 32 separate teams have had to be stopped because of the threat of new blasts at the Listvyazhnaya pit.

There have also been reports of a second explosion at the coal mine this afternoon, around 12 hours after the first.

The authorities confirmed earlier today that 11 miners had died while many more remained trapped in the mine, unable to contact the surface.

The only hope was that they found an air pocket deep underground, say sources with knowledge of the tragedy.

Rescue teams were halted due to “unstable” gas at the mine, some 2,200 miles east of capital Moscow.

"The chance of an explosion is very high. We've decided to suspend the search and rescue operation until the concentration of gas reduces," Regional Governor Sergei Tsivilev said.

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Russian president Vladimir Putin appeared to prepare Russians for more bad news in the morning.

"Unfortunately the situation is not getting easier. And there's a danger to the lives of the rescuers… We'll hope they can save as many people as they can," he said on TV.

An unnamed miner said that those at the epicentre of the "huge" explosion "turned into mince meat".

Some had limbs torn off, he said.

They were "wiped off the earth", he was quoted as saying.

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A wife of one of the missing miners said: “We are praying for a miracle.”

Minister of Emergency Situations Alexander Chupriyan confirmed before the reported suspension that the rescuers “are already finding bodies”.

Putin had ordered him to fly to the site of the tragedy.

Some 285 had been underground when the blast struck and this evening news site TACC revealed that the death toll currently stands at 52.

Most were evacuated but 49 suffered from smoke-related injuries and were treated in hospital. The wounded were ferried by helicopter to hospitals.

A report said that miners had warned of increased methane gas readings at the mine, but were nevertheless ordered to work or lose pay.

Putin’s prime minister Mikhail Mishustin was also in sombre mood, offering slender hope of the men being rescued.

“An emergency situation has occurred in the Kemerovo region today,” he said, stressing rescue efforts were underway.

“People have died and been injured in a fire in the Listvyazhnaya mine.

“I am deeply shocked by what has occurred.

“It's a big tragedy for the people, for the region, for all of us."

  • Vladimir Putin
  • Russia

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