11 dead, dozens trapped after fire in Siberian coal mine, Russian officials say | Radio-Canada News

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A fire at a coal mine in Siberia left 11 dead and more than 40 injured on Thursday, and dozens more are still trapped, authorities said.

The fire took place in the Kemerovo region in southwest Siberia. Russian state news agency Tass reported, citing an anonymous emergency official, that coal dust caught fire and smoke quickly filled the Litsvyazhnaya mine through the ventilation system.

A total of 285 people were in the mine at the time of the incident – 239 of them were evacuated and 46 other miners are still trapped underground, Kemerovo Governor Sergei Tsivilyov said on his page of the Telegram messaging app. “Forty-three people were hospitalized with injuries, four of them in serious condition,” Tsivilyov said.

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Earlier Thursday, acting Russian Minister for Emergencies Alexander Chupriyan said 44 minors had been hospitalized with injuries. The difference in the number of injuries reported by different officials could not be immediately reconciled.

Efforts to save others are still ongoing, hampered by large amounts of smoke.

The Russian commission of inquiry has launched a criminal investigation into the fire for breaching safety regulations which resulted in deaths.

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President Vladimir Putin offered his condolences to the families of the miners killed on Thursday and ordered the government to provide all necessary assistance to the injured, Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

34% of Russian coal mines deemed potentially dangerous

In 2016, 36 miners were killed in a series of methane explosions at a coal mine in Russia’s far north. In the aftermath of the incident, authorities analyzed the safety of the country’s 58 coal mines and said 20 of them, or 34%, were potentially dangerous.

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The Listvyazhnaya mine in the Kemerovo region was not one of them at the time, according to media reports.

The last mine inspection was on November 19, the Interfax news agency reported, citing officials from Rostekhnadzor, Russia’s tech and environmental watchdog. The report did not provide any details on the results of the inspection.

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