Russian mining accident leaves at least 11 dead, dozens trapped

Coal dust caught fire in the ventilation shaft of the Listvaiznaya mine in the snow-covered Kemerovo region, filling the mine with smoke, the TASS news agency quoted local emergency services as saying.

Regional Governor Sergei Tsivelev said 11 people had been found dead, and 46 people were still underground. Dozens more are receiving treatment in hospital, at least some of whom have smoke poisoning. Four of them were in critical condition.

Rescue workers and ambulances were seen arriving at the mine complex in video footage, with police gathering outside as the snow fell in the area about 3,500 kilometers (2,175 miles) east of Moscow.

The Emergencies Ministry said about 285 people were inside the mine when smoke spread through the vent. Authorities said at least 239 people managed to fly above the ground. They did not mention the cause of the smoke.

Tsivelev said that there was no longer a thick smoke in the mine, as there was still electricity and ventilation, but that contact with some people was broken deep in the earth.

“At the moment there is no thick smoke, so we hope that there will be no fire,” Tsevilev said in video comments posted on his Telegram channel. “We do not have lines of communication with these people and the underground communications system is not working,” he added.

The regional branch of the Russian Investigative Committee said it had opened a criminal case for negligence that caused deaths.

“According to preliminary data, a number of workers were poisoned by smoke. The number of victims is being determined,” it said in an earlier statement.

The mine is part of SDS-Holding, which is owned by the privately owned Siberian Business Consortium. There was no immediate comment from the union.

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