As many as 67 miners are believed to have died yesterday following a methane gas explosion at a mine in Novokuznetsk in Russia’s Kuzbass. This is the worst mine disaster in the region’s history. The bodies of 63 miners have so far been recovered; another four are missing and presumed dead. The explosion occurred in the early hours of December 2 while one shift was replacing another and both sets of men were down in the mine. A government commission has left Moscow for the region. (RTR, December 2)
Safety conditions in the Kuzbass have deteriorated in recent years despite the fact that 15 of the most dangerous mines have been closed over the past two years. It was traditionally reckoned that every million tons of coal excavated in the region cost the life of one miner. The Kuzbass expects to produce 100 million tons of coal this year, but 130 miners have already lost their lives in accidents, compared with 121 deaths for the whole of 1996. (RTR, December 2)
Russia Seeks Emergency Loan.