9 May 2010

At least 11 dead after Russian mine blasts

3:07 pm on 9 May 2010

Two blasts at a coal mine in Siberia have killed at least 11 people and the search for survivors has been halted after damage to a ventilation shaft choked the mine with smoke and gas.

An official says 64 miners and 20 rescuers are still underground half a day after the first explosion at the mine in the Kemerovo region in Russia's coal-rich Kuzbass.

Emergency workers are trying to pump air into what is the largest underground mine in Russia.

The Itar-Tass news agency quoted a source at the company that owns the mine as saying contact with the 20 emergency workers in the mine had been lost and their fate was unknown.

An official said 41 people were injured in the blasts at the Raspadskaya mine.

He said 12 of the injured were hospitalised. They were among more than 200 who emerged alive after the blast on Saturday.

The mine in the city of Mezhdurechensk had reserves of some 450 million tons of coal and produced 8.9 million tons in 2007, according to the Raspadskaya company.

It says the pit is the largest underground mine in Russia.