July 29, 2008

Investigators Start Initial Inquiry into Mechel’s Mine Blast in Mezhdurechensk

KEMEROVO. July 29 (Interfax) - A pre-investigation inspection has begun at the Lenin coal mine (in Mezhdurechensk, Kemerovo region), where 17 miners were injured as a result of today's mine blast.

"The Russian Prosecutor's Office Investigative Committee's (POIC) branch in Mezhdurechensk will conduct a pre-investigation inspection. The results of it will show whether a criminal case should be launched," Nadezhda Ananyeva, the spokeswoman for the POIC office in Kemerovo region, told Interfax.

According to the latest data provided by emergency experts, the coal mine blast initially led to 16 injured coalminers being hospitalized in Mezhdurechensk, with the 17th admitted to the same hospital later. Four coalminers are in an intensive care unit, others are being treated at the department of traumatology.

One of the 17 injured workers is a woman, Ananyeva said.

It was reported that the methane blast occurred at one of the sites at the Lenin mine in Mezhdurechensk (owned by Mechel's Yuzhny Kuzbass) at 11:10 a.m. local time. The accident took place during repair operations carried out at the depth of 300 meters. All coalminers were able to come to the surface without help. Mining operations have been suspended.

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