( AFP ) - A gas explosion ripped through a coal mine in eastern Ukraine on Sunday killing at least 14 workers and leaving a greater number unaccounted for, the ministry of emergency situations said.
"Fourteen dead bodies have been discovered" in the mine in the Donetsk region after the accident, the ministry said in a statement. "The fate of 17 others remains unclear."
Thirty-one miners were working in the area of the Zasyadko mine near where the explosion occurred shortly after 3:00 am local time (0100 GMT), the ministry said. A total of 457 people were working in the mine at the time.
A massive rescue operation had been initiated with 65 rescue teams and 21 medical units deployed to the scene, the statement said.
The Zasyadko mine has suffered several deadly accidents in the past.
A gas leak in September 2006 killed 13 miners and made dozens sick.
In 1999 an explosion there claimed 50 lives, while in 2001 another blast claimed 55 lives and the following year 20 died in yet another accident.