At Least 11 Dead, Dozens Injured in Siberia Coal Mine Fire

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The Listvyazhnaya coal mine in the Kemerovo region town of Belovo in southwestern Siberia.Administration Governments of Kuzbass

At least 285 miners were inside when the blaze erupted at the Listvyazhnaya coal mine in Kemerovo — also known as Kuzbass — 3,600 kilometers east of Moscow, Governor Sergei Tsivilev wrote on his Telegram channel.

The emergency services told Interfax that 237 miners were evacuated, 43 of whom sustained various injuries.

The death toll could rise further with 49 miners remaining trapped inside, according to Interfax.

Rescuers have suspended their search for survivors due to the threat of an explosion, the emergencies services told Russian state media.

The fire is believed to have started due to a ventilation shaft explosion 250 meters below ground, Interfax reported, citing unnamed technical supervision authorities.

“The top preliminary theory is equipment malfunction and natural causes,” they were quoted as saying.

Alexander Sergeyev, the head of Russia’s Independent Miners’ Union, said the incident was a result of “sheer carelessness” toward safety rules by mine owners and management.

“And now they are shifting the blame onto the workers again. This is a systemic problem when people go into anything for the sake of profit,” he told the Moskovsky Komsomolets tabloid.

Law enforcement authorities have opened a criminal case into the violation of industrial safety requirements that resulted in a person’s death.