9 dead, 24 missing in Siberian gold mine fire

Other News Materials 8 September 2006 13:28 (UTC +04:00)

(RIA Novosti) - At least 9 miners have died and 24 remain missing in gold mine in southern Siberia after a major fire, a local administration spokesman said Friday.

A total of 64 workers were underground when the fire broke out in a shaft at the Vershino-Darsunsky mine in the Chita Region, five time zones east of the capital, at 8:15 a.m. Moscow time (4:15 a.m. GMT) Thursday. In all, 31 miners were evacuated in the immediate aftermath after the blaze, which happened at a depth of between 85 (280 feet) and 135 meters (425 ft), reports Trend.

A total of 15 rescuers were hospitalized with carbon monoxide poisoning during the operation, the spokesman said.

"One of the rescuers is in a moderate condition and the others are in a good condition," a local health official said, adding that seven of the rescuers had been already released from the hospital

The ongoing search and rescue operation involves 120 representatives from local emergency services and two rescue teams who have arrived from the Kemerovo Region in southwestern Siberia.

Mines in the former Soviet Union have endured a poor safety record in the last fifteen years. Three miners were killed in a blast in another Siberian shaft in August and six men lost their lives in an accident at a Ukrainian pit in the same month.