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12 Dec, 2008 23:16

Twelve killed in mine blast

The bodies of the twelve miners killed in the Murmansk region of northern Russia have been identified. They died in an underground blast as they were preparing to detonate some 50 tonnes of explosives.

Police sources say the blast happened late on Thursday in the Apatite open-cast mine, eight kilometres from the city of Kirovsk.

The explosion occurred in a packing machine delivering explosives to the tunnel in preparation for a blast scheduled for December 15.

“The packing machine we use for explosives blew up,” said Maksim Volkov, Fosagro mining company manager. “At the moment the investigation commission is looking into the causes of the accident. Luckily the rest of the explosives didn’t go off.”

Local emergency services say a fire started immediately after the explosion, while investigators are looking into potential violations of safety rules.

Authorities in the Murmansk region have declared next Tuesday a day of mourning.