Coal mine explosion in Russia kills 5 rescuers, no survivors among 26 miners trapped underground

A new explosion has rocked a coalmine in Vorkuta, northern Russia, killing five rescuers and one miner. The blast occurred during efforts to rescue workers trapped underground after the first blast at the mine earlier this week.

Five people have been reported injured as a result of the explosion. Three of them have been receiving treatment in the hospital: two are in a state of medium severity, one is considered to be slightly injured. 

The Emergencies Ministry has officially confirmed that none of the 26 miners whom the rescuers were trying to save from the first blast had survived. 

That brings the total death toll from the two explosions to 36 people. The first blast happened on Thursday. Four people were killed immediately and the rescue operation for those trapped started.

Coalmine rescuers were operating at a normal safety distance, but the blast affected them even there, Tatiana Bushkova, spokesman for JSC Vorkutaugol, operator of the Severnaya coal mine, told TASS. А hoisting engineer was killed by the explosion that spread across the workings, she added.He was supplying materials to the site of the rescue works.

Since Thursday, 80 miners were evacuated from the mine. It was reported that 550 people and 80 pieces of equipment were involved in the rescue effort. The mine’s location, above the Arctic Circle, made the operation extremely difficult. 

Emergency services have warned that possibility of another underground blast remains because of the high levels of methane in the mine.

The technical committee has announced it would localize the incident by isolating the site of the explosion, head of Vorkutaugol Denis Paykin told journalists. This isolation method will allow authorities to extinguish the fire and put the mine back into operation relatively quickly. It involves pumping nitrogen into the mine. The isolation works are expected to be carried out within a day.

READ MORE:Coal mine collapse in northern Russia

Three days of mourning have been announced in the Komi Republic for the victims of the disaster. Cultural institutions, as well as radio and TV companies, have been recommended to cancel entertainment events and programs in the days of mourning, the government of the northern Russian republic has said in an order. Local government officials and the administration of the city of Vorkuta have been ordered to take all necessary measures to assist the families of the victims.

The stricken Severnaya coal mine belongs to Vorkuta, an integral part of the industrial giant Severstal.