Russia’s Komi Republic Mourns Coal Mine Blast Victims

MOSCOW, February 13 (RIA Novosti) – Russia’s northern republic of Komi is in mourning for those killed in a recent gas blast at the Vorkutinskaya coal mine, with all 18 victims identified.

According to local authorities, 26 miners were working in the section of the mine where methane exploded at a depth of 800 meters on Monday. In total, some 259 people were working at the mine at the time.

The rescue operation is over, and the authorities have started paying compensations, while doctors are still trying to save those seriously injured in Monday’s explosion.

Komi head Vyacheslav Gaizer declared Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday officials days of mourning for the victims.

The Vorkutinskaya mine, in operation since 1973, is owned by the northern division of one of Russia’s largest steel producers Severstal. It produces 1.8 million tons of coal annually.

Mine safety conditions in Russia have often been a cause for concern. In 2010, a total of 91 workers died in twin methane gas explosions at a mine owned by the Raspadskaya company in the Kemerovo Region in west Siberia.

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