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26 trapped miners feared dead in northern Russia coal mine blast

(Xinhua) Updated: 2016-02-28 19:39

MOSCOW - The Russian Emergency Situations Ministry said on Sunday that there are actually no chances for survival of the 26 coal miners trapped underground in Thursday's coal mine blast in Russia's northern Komi republic.

According to an online press release of the ministry, Denis Paikin, a technical director of the Vorkutaugol Mining Corporation that operates the Severnaya mine, said assessment of the current situation showed that people trapped in the mine could not survive.

A methane explosion at the Severnaya mine, based in Komi republic's city of Vorkuta, an arctic city about 1,900 km northeast of Moscow, on Thursday triggered two blasts and rock collapse followed by a fire.

Because of the first explosion, of the 111 coal miners underground, four were killed while 26 were trapped.

A third blast happened early Sunday during a search and rescue operation, killing five rescuers and a miner.

According to Russian Emergency Situations Minister Vladimir Puchkov, the third blast sharply worsened the situation.

"Data show there are high temperatures and no oxygen in the area of the underground space where the 26 coal miners were staying. This section was the epicenter of the third explosion," Puchkov said.

"The circumstances in the affected part of the mine did not allow anyone to survive."

After the thrid blast, the rescue work immediately stopped, as experts said there are high possibilities for new explosions at the mine.

Puchkov ordered experts and technicians to prepare a new report evaluating the situation of the coal mine after the third blast.

The ministry said the series of blasts at the coal mine were presumably caused by methane.

The Komi Republic on Sunday declared three days of public mourning for the miners killed.

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