Accidents at two Ukrainian mines kill 37

A heavy blast at a coal mine in Ukraine's Lugansk Region and an accident at another mine in the Donetsk Region, also in the east of the country, have killed 37 people and left at least six others injured.

­The explosion at the Lugansk mine happened on Friday night almost a thousand meters below the surface and is thought to have been caused by gas. Twenty-eight miners were underground and 26 of them are reported dead, while two others have been hospitalized with burns.

The rescue operation is being conducted by 20 units of the National Paramilitary Mine Rescue Service.

The mine, where dozens of miners have been killed in the last few decades, is known to be one of the most dangerous in the region. The latest incident occurred there as recently as July 11, when fumes forced 59 people leave the mine. One of the most serious accidents took place on June 9, 1992 when 63 miners died in a gas explosion and scores were injured.

Friday’s second accident took place at a mine in the neighboring Donetsk Region. The incident was caused when lifting equipment collapsed, killing 11 people and injuring four others.

According to Ukraine’s Emergency Ministry, whose specialists are currently working at the site, 538 miners have left the tunnels using reserve portals.

Ukraine’s Prosecutor General’s office has launched a criminal investigation into the accident, and Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich has left for the site of the disaster to oversee the rescue operation.