44 Miners Injured in Ukrainian Blast

APA coal miner being treated in a Donetsk hospital Saturday for injuries sustained in an explosion in the Zasyadko mine.
KIEV -- An explosion injured 44 miners on Saturday at a colliery in eastern Ukraine was struck by the country's worst mining accident two weeks earlier.

Ukraine's mining inspectorate said 63 miners were in the affected section when the blast occurred just before 6 a.m. -- in the same area of the Zasyadko pit as last month's deadly methane explosion. All 63 were brought to the surface.

Ukraine's industrial safety watchdog said 44 miners were hospitalized, nine of them in severe condition, RIA-Novosti reported.

"An explosion occurred at 5:55 a.m. in a section of the mine isolated by fire. Sixty-three people were in the immediate vicinity," said a duty officer with the mining inspectorate. "All have now been brought to the surface. There are no miners remaining below."

The Emergency Situations Ministry said seven miners remained in the hospital suffering from gas poisoning and various injuries Sunday.

The ministry also said a miner died in an incident involving a coal wagon at another mine near Donetsk.

The explosion on Nov. 18 at the Zasyadko mine, the site of four major accidents since 2001, killed 101 miners.

About 10 bodies have still to be brought out of the mine in Donetsk in the heart of the Donbass coal field. Fires were still burning more than a kilometer below the surface.

Ukraine's mining industry, which operates some pits dating from the 19th century, has suffered a long series of accidents. At least 193 miners have died in the Donetsk region alone this year.

Ukraine's mines are regarded as some of the world's most dangerous, partly because many are in poor repair. In addition, the country's mines typically are more than 1,000 meters deep -- twice the depth of most European coal beds. High levels of methane accumulate at such depths.

Zasyadko is viewed as one of Ukraine's technically most advanced and profitable pits. But experts say that mining far below the surface at this and other Ukrainian collieries increases the risk of accidents.

Reuters, AP