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4 Mar, 2015 06:32

Dozens of E. Ukraine miners killed in fatal gas blast

A catastrophic explosion at the Zasyadko mine in Donetsk has left at least 32 workers dead with 1 still considered missing and likely dead, according to the regional administration and emergencies ministry.

Regional emergency services confirmed that 32 victims, the bodies of whom have been found, are being recovered from the mine. Rescuers are still searching for the last missing person, RIA Novosti reports citing emergency official.

The local administration reported earlier, that “23 bodies of miners have been found,” adding that alongside the bodies recovered earlier, the total death toll could be as high as 33 people.

The Emergency Ministry and the independent miners’ trade union suggest that there were either 73 or 207 people underground at the time of the incident. According to Interfax, as many as 230 people were underground at the time of the explosion.

Authorities suspect that the blast was caused by a methane buildup. Head of DNR emergency services Aleksey Kostrubitsky told journalists, “Presumably, it was a methane explosion.”

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has ordered a period of mourning be declared once the number of dead is established.

READ MORE: Shelling of Ukraine coal hub leaves hundreds of miners trapped for hours

The head of the Kievsky district in Donetsk, Ivan Prikhodko, told LifeNews media outlet that there is no communication with the miners who are underground.

The mine’s administration hasn't confirmed the blast, TASS reported.

The Zasyadko mine is known for fatal incidents, with over 200 miners having been killed over the past few years.

The biggest blast happened in November 2007, with 101 killed in the explosion. Two weeks later, two more explosions rocked the mine, leaving five more people dead.

In January, some 500 miners found themselves trapped underground after shelling cut the same Donetsk coalmine from power supply.