Russia jails 5 people for coal mining disaster that killed 51 people

MOSCOW – A Russian court on Saturday ordered five people to be detained before trial for two months pending an investigation into a horrific explosion at a Siberian coal mine that left dozens dead.

Russian authorities announced 51 deaths after a methane explosion rocked the Listvyazhnaya mine in Kemerovo region, southwestern Siberia on Thursday – 46 miners and five rescuers. The tragedy appears to be the bloodiest in Russia since 2010.

The Central District Court in the city of Kemerovo sentenced to prison the director of the Listvyazhnaya mine, Sergei Makhrakov, his deputy Andrei Molostvov and area supervisor Sergei Gerasimenok.

They are facing charges of violating industrial safety requirements for hazardous manufacturing facilities that resulted in multiple deaths. If convicted, they could be jailed for up to seven years.

Two officials of the local branch of Rostekhnadzor, Russia’s state ecological and technological watchdog – Sergei Vinokurov and Vyacheslav Semykin – were also jailed for two months for negligence leading to two or more deaths, including as well as being punished with up to seven years in prison.

Law enforcement officials said Friday that miners had complained about high levels of methane in the mine.

Russia’s leading independent news site, Meduza, reports that this year, authorities have suspended work on certain areas of the mine nine times and fined more than 4 million rubles ($53,000). ) for a safety violation.

A total of 285 miners were at the Listvyazhnaya mine on Thursday morning at the time of the explosion, which quickly filled the mine with toxic fumes. A total of 239 people were rescued immediately after the explosion, and more than 60 people are seeking medical assistance to recover from some of the injuries.

Officials on Thursday said 11 miners and three rescuers lost their lives while searching for others in a remote area of ​​the mine.

Thirty-five miners remained trapped in the mine when rescuers were forced to halt the search for several hours because of a build-up of methane and carbon monoxide.

Three more rescuers were missing and were presumed dead along with the trapped miners on Thursday.

However, on Friday morning, search teams found a rescuer in the mine who was still alive and well. He suffered from shock and moderate carbon monoxide poisoning and is being treated at the hospital.

Officials described his rescue as a “miracle” and said that finding any other survivors at the time was highly unlikely.

Kemerovo Governor Sergei Tsivilyov on Saturday announced the resumption of the search operation, saying “we need to lift everyone (to the surface).” However, he noted that rescue teams must act “with caution.”

“We have no right to lose even one more person,” Tsivilyov wrote on the messaging app Telegram.

Late Saturday, search teams recovered the bodies of five miners.


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