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13 Jun, 2008 00:19

Negligence caused mine blast in Ukraine

Negligence is considered the most likely cause of an explosion at a mine in Ukraine's Donetsk region. The body of one worker has been recovered, but 12 are still missing feared dead following the blast on Sunday.

The rescue operation continues. Emergency teams are working around the clock to pump water out of the Karl Marx mine.

Investigators say they have enough evidence to state that negligence was the main cause of Sunday's deadly explosion. They say the colliery management was forbidden from mining coal after a safety inspection last week.

Investigators also say the miners opened up a rich seam of methane, which leaked and exploded near the surface.

The miners are paid for every tonne of coal they mine each month, which makes them dependent on the yield. At the same time, almost all the jobs in the area are connected with the mine.

The Karl Marx mine has never turned a profit, yet the government continued to subsidise it for what it calls 'social reasons'.

“We've tried to retrain the miners here for other professions. So far, we have failed. We can make this industry viable, but that requires large-scale investment,” says Viktor Poltavets, Ukraine's Coal Industry Minister.

The government has not always been able to come up with the necessary funding to expand capacity, or even upgrade safety equipment. But with each life lost, and with each million spent on propping up a failing industry, it appears as if the need for change in this coalmining heartland is ever more pressing.