“According to preliminary data, 52 people died, including six rescuers,” a spokesman for the emergency services told Sputnik on Thursday.
Officials from the regional government earlier detailed that some 285 miners were at the site, and that approximately 237 had been successfully evacuated. Governor Sergey Tsivilev indicated at the time that communication with the dozens who remained inside the mine had been cut off.
Of the injured tally, two cases had been reported as being in critical conditions, with the majority being considered moderate or mild severity, the spokesperson stated earlier.Volume 90%
Tsivilev has since detailed that approximately 38 miners and 11 mine rescuers remain hospitalized.
The preliminary findings established the cause of the accident as a methane blast, according to Russian Deputy Prosecutor General Dmitry Demeshin.
“Most likely, it was a methane explosion caused by some kind of spark… [The blast] injured people and they could not get out,” he told reporters, adding that experts from Russia’s Investigative Committee are currently working on the incident.
According to the Investigative Committee, in line with the ongoing criminal probe, three members of the mine’s administration, including its director, his first deputy and a chief of the mine’s section, have been arrested on charges of “the violation of the requirements of industrial safety of hazardous production facilities, resulting in the death of two or more persons by negligence.”
The tragedy unfolded when coal dust caught fire, prompting smoke to consume the mine through the ventilation system, it had been reported. Rescue operations had been temporarily halted over concerns of the level of concentrated gas at the site.
The mine is owned by the SDS-Ugol Holding Company – one of the nation’s top three coal producers.