Nine dead after Urals ore mine explosion

An explosion in an ore mine near the city of Nizhny Tagil has claimed nine lives, and one person is still missing, according to a local emergencies ministry official.

Authorities have published the names of the victims. Works at the mine have been suspended.

A strong blast occurred at 13:35 local time [08:35 GMT] on Wednesday in the Yestyuninskaya ore mine, which belongs to the Evraz mining corporation. 123 workers were inside the mine at a depth of approximately 180 meters when the blast occurred. 114 people were safely evacuated.

“According to one account, the explosive materials meant to be used for work in the mine exploded by accident,” said Valery Gorelykh, a spokesperson for the Directorate of Internal Affairs.

A special investigative crew from Nizhny Tagil Internal Affairs Department, as well as the head of the Region’s Directorate of Internal Affairs Mikhail Nikitin, the city’s prosecutor, Sergey Garmash, and representatives of the Ministry of Emergency Situations are currently examining the scene.

A criminal investigation into disruption of safety rules leading to two or more fatalities has been launched.

The tragedy is not the first accident to happen in the mine. On January 22, 2009, 18 people suffered injuries in a fire that broke out in one of its facilities. The accident was caused by a curbstone which lit a pile of rubbish.

Yestyuninskaya ore mine is a part of the Vysokogorsky mining complex, one of the major enterprises in Russia’s Urals. Apart from enriched ore, the complex produces limestone, natural stone and other products.