A heavy blast at a coal mine in Ukraine’s Lugansk Region and an accident at another mine in the Donetsk Region, also in the east of the country, have killed 18 people and left at least 10 others injured.
The explosion at the Lugansk mine happened overnight almost a thousand meters below the surface and is thought to have been caused by gas. Twenty-eight miners were underground and 17 of them are reported dead, while two others have been hospitalized with burns. Nine miners are still missing according to Interfax.
The Prosecutor General’s office has launched a criminal investigation into the accident, and Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich has departed to the site of the disaster to lead the rescue operation.
The mine is known to be one of the most dangerous in the region, killing dozens of miners over the last few decades. The latest incident occurred there as recently as July 11, when fumes forced 59 people leave the mine. One of the most serious accidents took place on June 9, 1992. Back then, 63 miners died in a gas explosion and scores were injured.
One more accident took place today at a mine in the neighboring Donetsk Region. The incident was caused by a collapse of the lifting equipment and killed one person while injuring eight others.
According to Ukraine’s Emergency Ministry, whose specialists are currently working on the site, some 600 miners have left the tunnels using reserve portals.