According to Russian news agencies, a gas leak in a Siberian coal mine killed at least 52 people on Thursday, including six rescuers who were sent down to try and save dozens of men in one of Russia’s biggest mining catastrophes since the Soviet era.
Three have been arrested being suspects of violating industrial safety laws, according to the regional Investigative Committee, including the director of the Listvyazhnaya mine and his deputy.
Miners suffocated after a ventilation shaft became filled with gas. Prosecutors believe that there was a methane explosion, state television reported.
Eleven miners had already been verified to have been killed and around 35 reported to be missing and six rescue workers too were among the dead.
Hundreds of individuals were taken to the hospital, with at least some of them suffering from smoke inhalation. Four of the victims were in critical condition.
For years, catastrophic mining accidents have occurred in the coal-producing region of Kemerovo, around 3,500 kilometres (2,200 miles) east of Moscow.
SDS-Holding, which is controlled by the privately held Siberian Business Union, owns the Listvyazhnaya mine.
According to the Emergencies Ministry, 285 individuals were inside the mine when smoke spread through the ventilation shaft. Authorities said that 239 people had escaped.
President Vladimir Putin stated that he had spoken with the governor and emergency officials, and that he had instructed the emergency minister to fly to the region to assist.
Three days of mourning have been announced in Kemerovo.
The region was the location of the biggest mining tragedy since the Soviet Union’s demise in 2007, when an explosion at the Ulyanovskaya mine killed over 100 persons. More than 90 persons were killed in explosions at the Raspadskaya mine in the region in 2010.