Six rescue workers were found dead in a coal mine accident in Russia’s Siberia region, killing 52 people.
At least 52 miners and rescue workers were killed and dozens more were missing after a smoke-filled accident at a Siberian coal mine, Russian news agencies said.
Russia’s Tass news agency, citing an unnamed emergency official, said the miners were killed in the coal dust fire, and smoke quickly filled the Listyzhnaya mine through the ventilation system.
According to the Ria Novosti news agency Tass, six rescuers were also killed.
Smoke filled 285 people in the mine near the town of Belovo in the Kemerovo region in the early hours of Thursday.
Earlier, Kemerovo Governor Sergei Sylavyev said on Telegram that many people had been evacuated, at least 35 people were trapped.
In another Telegram message, the governor said 49 have been injured and are seeking medical help.
“The chances of an explosion are very high. We have decided to postpone the search and rescue operation until the gas concentration subsides,” Civilev said.
President Vladimir Putin expressed condolences to the families The number of miners killed, calling it a “great tragedy”.
“I have spoken several times with the governor of the Kemerovo region [Sergei Tsivilev] and the chief of rescue services,” he said during a meeting with the Serbian counterpart Alexander Vucic at the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi.
“They are doing everything in their power but, unfortunately, the situation is not improving, and they are now risking their lives. Important decisions are being taken on the spot. We hope that as many lives as possible will be saved.”
The coal-producing region of Kemerovo, some 3,500 km (2,175 mi) east of Moscow, has suffered fatal mining accidents for years.
The Listvyazhnaya mine is part of SDS-Holding, which is owned by the privately held Siberian Business Union. There was no immediate comment from the owner.
The latest inspection of the Listvyaznaya mine took place on November 19, according to news outlet Interfax, citing officials from Rostekhnadzor, Russia’s state technology and ecology watchdog. The report did not provide any details on the results of the inspection.
In 2016, 36 miners were killed in a series of methane explosions at the Severnaya coal mine in Russia’s far north. In the wake of the incident, officials analyzed the safety of 58 coal mines in the country and declared 20 of them potentially unsafe.
Another incident in 2010 killed 91 people and injured 100 at the Raspadskaya mine in Siberia.
The accident was the result of a methane explosion when more than 300 miners were inside. A second explosion trapped a group of rescuers.
In 2007, 110 people were killed after a gas explosion at the Ulyanovskaya mine in the same area.