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11 Jun, 2008 00:52

Hopes fade for missing Ukrainian miners

Fears are growing in Ukraine that 12 miners still missing after a blast at a coal mine on Sunday may not be found alive. The recovery effort is being hampered by water which has flooded the mine.

Rescuers saved 24 workers on Monday. They were trapped when a methane explosion ripped through the Karl Marx colliery in the Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine.

A team of 37 miners were underground when the explosion took place.  Questions are now being asked about why these people were there, as the state-owned mine was shut down after a safety inspection last week.

Twenty-four out of 37 missing workers were rescued on Monday. One was found dead.

The blast struck the mine at 6am on Sunday, injuring four workers, including three women. All were treated for burns.

The Karl Marx plant is more than a hundred years old, like many in Ukraine's mining hub in the east of the country. It was a loss-maker, suffered from underinvestment and had outdated safety equipment.