33 killed, dozens trapped in mine blast in rebel-controlled east Ukraine

March 4, 2015 | By | Reply More

Mar 04, – Dozens of miners were trapped underground and feared dead after a blast on Wednesday at a coal mine in the eastern Ukrainian rebel stronghold of Donetsk.

hromedia 33 killed, dozens trapped in mine blast in rebel-controlled east Ukraine eu news4Mine officials said the explosion was most likely caused by gas and not linked to fighting at the nearby frontline in the war between Moscow-backed rebels and Ukraine government forces. Nevertheless, Kiev suggested the war had made the disaster worse, accusing the separatists of holding up a rescue effort by restricting access.

Outside the gates of the Zasyadko mine, about 30 relatives clamoured for information about any survivors. A miner injured in the blast mingled with the crowd, his face covered in scratches and one arm hanging motionless by his side, the result of a broken collarbone.

The miner, Sergei Baldayev, said five bodies had so far been retrieved from the area of the blast, in a shaft deep underground.

The sister of one miner who was in the pit at the time of the explosion, Alexei Novoselsky, stood in tears.

“Tell me, are there survivors? Why are you concealing the truth,” she said as a local rescue services employee tried to calm her.

Officials declined to give firm figures for the number of miners missing or dead. An official with the local rescue services, speaking on condition of anonymity, said: “There are 30 people unaccounted for. Probably for them it’s over.”

Eduard Dmitrenko, a miner who went down the affected shaft after the blast, said there were about 20 people missing, possibly more. It was unlikely any of them would be found alive, “but they will of course find bodies,” said Dmitrenko, his face covered with coal dust.

Donetsk has been the scene of heavy fighting between Moscow-backed separatist rebels, who control the area, and forces loyal to the government in Kiev. A ceasefire has sharply reduced the violence in the past week. For a map, click on link.reuters.com/cab34w

The neighbourhood around the mine has come under artillery fire, with fragments from Grad rockets visible on surrounding roads, but mine officials said the explosion was unrelated to the fighting and most likely caused by gas.

In Kiev, Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk said rescue workers had been dispatched by the central authorities, “but the Russian terrorists did not let them reach the scene of the accident,” he said, using a term commonly used by Kiev to describe the separatists.

Asked what were the chances of trapped miners surviving, a medical worker said: “It’s getting smaller and smaller all the time, because of the methane, the hot air, burns to the airways.”

She said two buses had been brought to the mine in preparation for carrying away the bodies of the dead.

Press journalist for HRO media – Norberto Lluch reports.

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Category: European Crises

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