Six rescuers have been found dead in a coal mine accident in the Russian region of Siberia.
At least 52 miners and rescuers have been killed and dozens more missing as a result of an accident that saw a Siberian coal mine filled with smoke, Russian news agencies reported.
The miners were killed when coal dust caught fire, and smoke quickly filled the Listvyazhnaya mine through a ventilation system, Russia’s Tass news agency said, citing an unnamed emergency official.
Six rescuers were also killed, according to Tass, the Ria Novosti news agency reported.
The mine near the town of Belovo in the Kemerovo region was filled with smoke in the first hour of Thursday within 285 people.
Earlier, Kemerovo Governor Sergei Tsivilev told the Telegram that while many were evacuated, at least 35 people remained trapped.
In another telegram message, the governor said 49 were injured and were seeking medical help.
“There’s a very high chance of an explosion. We have decided to suspend the search and rescue operation until the gas concentration is reduced, ”Tsivilev said.
President Vladimir Putin expressed condolences to the families among the dead miners, saying it is a “great tragedy.”
“I have spoken several times with the governor of the Kemerovo region [Sergei Tsivilev] and heads of rescue services, ”he said at a meeting with Serbian counterpart Aleksandar Vucic at the Russian Black Sea station in Sochi.
“They are doing everything in their power but unfortunately the situation is not improving, and now they are risking their lives. The necessary decisions are being made on the spot. We hope to save as many lives as possible, ”he added.
The Kemerovo coal-producing region, about 3,500 km (2,175 miles) from Moscow, has suffered fatal mining accidents over the years.
The Listvyazhnaya mine is part of SDS-Holding, owned by the Siberian Private Business Union. There was no immediate comment from the owner.
According to Interfax news, referring to officials of the Russian state technology and ecology watchdog Rostekhnadzor, the final inspection of the Listvyazhnaya mine was conducted on 19 November. The report did not provide details on the results of the audit.
In 2016, 36 miners were killed in a methane explosion at the Severnaya coal mine in northern Russia. Following the incident, authorities examined the safety of 58 coal mines in the country and declared 20 of them potentially dangerous.
In another incident in 2010, 91 people were killed and 100 injured in the Raspadskaya mine in Siberia.
The accident was the result of a methane explosion, with more than 300 miners inside. Then a second explosion caught a rescue team.
In 2007, 110 people were killed in the Ulyanovskaya mine in the same region as a result of a gas explosion.