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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Regulators Shut Down 30 Coal Mines

Regulators said Monday that they had suspended operation at more than 30 mines as part of a check of safety standards following last month's Ulyanovskaya coal mine disaster that killed more than 100 people.

The Industry and Energy Ministry's technical standards agency said 33 coal mines had been suspended nationwide, including 29 in the coal-rich region in eastern Siberia known as the Kuzbass.

The March 19 methane gas explosion at the Kuzbass mine Ulyanovskaya that killed at least 108 miners was Russia's worst mining disaster in more than a decade.

The technical standards agency said the nationwide check was intended to scrutinize mine operators' compliance with safety standards and technical requirements, with particular attention being paid to ventilation.

The failure of the mine ventilation system at Ulyanovskaya is believed to have caused the strong buildup of methane that led to the blast.

Russian news reports have said that miners in Ulyanovskaya may have deliberately disabled monitors tracking methane and other gas levels to avoid a slowdown in operations, leading to possible wage cuts.