Dozens killed in Kazakh mine blast

The death toll in a Kazakh coal mine explosion rose to 30 on Sunday when authorities gave up hope of rescuing 23 trapped miners and said they could not have survived.

”The high temperatures and the high concentration of carbon oxide … have made their survival impossible,” the Emergencies Ministry said in statement following Friday’s explosion at the Abaiskaya mine in central Kazakhstan.

Rescuers have been unable to put out an underground fire at the mine, owned by the world’s largest steel maker, Arcelor Mittal. Seven miners had initially been reported killed in the blast.

The ministry said the search for survivors had been abandoned and certain areas of the mine were being filled with water to prevent the flames from spreading.

An explosion at another mine owned by Arcelor Mittal in the same region, the Lenin mine, killed 43 workers in 2006. Two earlier blasts, in 2002 and 2004, killed more than 30 miners.

Coal mining accidents occur frequently in the former Soviet Union, where safety practices are often less strictly observed than in Western mines.

Explosions in coal mines are most often the result of a build-up of methane gas, although emergency officials did not confirm the cause of Friday’s blast. – Reuters

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