Several news outlets including CNN International and Bloomberg Europe report this morning that a methane explosion has rocked the Ulyanovsk Mine near the Kemerovo region town of Novokuznetsk, a Siberian coal mine in one of Russia’s biggest coal-producing regions.
At least 25 miners have been reported killed and up to 100 are missing and being searched for at this moment, as has been reported by the Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations. An unidentified regional government spokesman reports that at least 55 miners have been rescued. USA Today reports that Emergency Situations Ministry spokeswoman Alina Avyazova said that at least five other miners were injured as a result of the blast.
The blast occurred at 11:16 a.m. Moscow time (0816 GMT). According to USA Today, Russian news agencies have been reporting that President Vladimir Putin has ordered Emergency Situations Minister Sergei Shoigu to travel to the area.
According to Bloomberg Europe, the mine is owned by OAO Yuzhkuzbassugol, Valery Korchagin. Evraz Group SA, a Russian steelmaker part owned by billionaire Roman Abramovich, splits ownership of Yuzhkuzbassugol with the management, also reports Bloomberg Europe as found on the steelmaker’s Web site.
The Kemerovo region produces 56% of Russia’s coal, and the former Soviet Union’s republics hold about a 25% of the world’s coal reserves.
The Ulyanovskaya Mine is located in Novokuznetsk. Novokuznetsk is a city which lies approximately 1,850 miles east of Moscow. It is situated within a coal-rich area of south-central Siberia that is known as the Kuzbass.
Russia has a history of accidents such as today’s explosion in its coal industry. Thousands of workers died working these coal mines under Stalin. Less than six months ago, more than 60 people were killed in accidents in Ukraine and Kazakhstan. Last year, 25 workers also perished at a fire that occurred in a Siberian gold mine. And three years ago, in 2004, 47 workers were killed in a mine blast on the outskirts of Novokuznetsk. As far back as ten years ago, in 1997, a methane explosion in Novokuznetsk killed 67 mine workers.
A regional spokesman reported to Reuters that, “The rescue operation is still under way.”
CNN.com International. 21 dead in Russian mine explosion. March 19, 2007. http://edition.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/europe/03/19/russia.mine/. Retrieved March 19, 2007.
Gardner, Hannah. Bloomberg.com Europe. 21 Coal Miners Die, 100 Missing in Siberia Explosion (Update1). March 19, 2007. http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601085&sid=aJ16m.DOI7ds&refer=europe. Retrieved March 19, 2007.
USA Today. Explosion in Russian coal mine kills at least 25. March 19, 2007. http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2007-03-19-russia-mine_N.htm?POE=NEWISVA. Retrieved March 19, 2007.