MOSCOW (Reuters) – Rescue teams re-entered one of Russia’s largest coal mines yesterday in a bid to find 83 people trapped underground by two methane explosions after a build up of gas halted the search for most of the day, officials said.
Twelve people died and another 41 were injured in two methane explosions at the Raspadskaya mine in Siberia’s coal-rich Kemerovo region 3,000 km (1,850 miles) east of Moscow late on Saturday, the Emergencies Ministry said.
Sixty-four miners and 19 rescuers were unaccounted for underground over 24 hours after the first explosion just before midnight (1700 GMT) on Satur-day. Both explosions were caused by methane gas build-up, the ministry said.
“The situation is clearly serious,” Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said in a televised video conference with rescue leaders. “We need to do everything technically possible so the mine is ventilated in the shortest possible time.”
Rescue operations involving over 500 people were suspended early on Sunday because of dangerous conditions and fears of further explosions.
“The rescue effort has restarted. Four (new) teams have been sent into the mine,” Valery Korchagin, a regional emergency official said late on Sunday. Russian news agencies said the teams were hoping to rescue five people trapped in one part of the mine.