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53 Die in Coal Mine Accidents in Kazakhstan and Ukraine

September 21, 2006|From the Associated Press

ALMATY, Kazakhstan — Coal mining accidents Wednesday in Kazakhstan and Ukraine killed at least 53 workers and left one missing.

A methane gas explosion at the Lenin mine in central Kazakhstan was so powerful that bodies were found more than half a mile away, Kazakh TV channel KTK reported.

The blast killed 40 miners. Zhanar Bekbanova, a spokeswoman for the Karaganda regional administration, said one miner was missing and presumed dead, and three were in serious condition.

Mine owner Arcelor Mittal said it was unclear what caused the blast, and that a full investigation would be launched.

The coal mine is part of a vast complex of mines and generating plants that power Kazakhstan's largest metal factory. The complex is about 120 miles south of the capital, Astana.

In the eastern Donetsk region of Ukraine, a methane gas leak at the Zasyadko mine killed 13 workers and injured at least 61.

So far this year, 130 miners have been killed in Ukraine's 273 mines, officials said.

Emergency Situations Ministry spokesman Ihor Krol said 400 miners were working at a depth of about 3,600 feet when "an unexpected eruption of a coal and gas mixture," later identified as methane, occurred.

Rescuers managed to save 36 trapped miners. The 13 died of gas poisoning.

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