Mine Collapse Traps 5 In Central Kazakhstan

ALMATY, Kazakhstan — A discharge of methane gas sent hundreds of tons of coal collapsing at a mine in Kazakhstan on Monday, trapping five workers, authorities said.
It is unlikely that the trapped miners are still alive, said steel giant ArcelorMittal, which owns the Tentekskaya coal mine in Kazakhstan’s central Karaganda region. Dozens of rescuers were searching for them. Ninety-five other workers were safely evacuated after the collapse, the Emergency Situations Ministry said.
Kazakh authorities have criticized ArcelorMittal Temirtau, the Luxembourg-based steel-maker’s Kazakh subsidiary, for a poor safety record.
There have been several other accidents at the company’s local mines, though it says it plans to invest heavily in improving safety conditions.
In Monday’s accident, the discharge of methane gas put pressure on coal seams, causing the collapse, officials said.
“Fortunately, the evacuation procedure worked well, and we have managed to bring 95 people safely to the surface,” Frank Pannier, head of ArcelorMittal in Kazakhstan, said. “Nevertheless, it looks as though there have been five tragic fatalities as a result of the accident.”
Information on casualties could not be confirmed, the Emergency Situations Ministry said. Minister Vladimir Bozhko said earlier that the trapped men would be able to survive up to five hours if emergency respiration equipment worked as expected.
It was too early to speculate on the exact cause of the collapse, Pannier said.
The rescue operation was hampered by the amount of fallen rubble, Karaganda Governor Nurlan Nigmatulin said at a government meeting. About 1,000 tons of coal may have collapsed at a depth of 500 meters, he said.
A methane gas explosion at ArcelorMittal’s Abai coal mine in Kazakhstan killed 31 workers in January, prompting government threats to revoke the company’s operating license.